|LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (6/22/2011) – By the book.|
That's the way his friends in the 164th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. described U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Bell of Saint Joseph, Mich., when they described the fallen MP June 10 on Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan.
Bell was one of four military police officers from the 164th MP Company killed when an improvised explosive device detonated June 4 outside Khanda Village, Laghman province, Afghanistan. Also killed were Sgt. Devin A. Snyder, of Cohockton, N.Y., Sgt. Joshua D. Powell, of Tyler, Texas, and Spc. Spc. Robert L. Voakes, Jr., of Hancock, Mich.
“He was a walking Army regulation,” said Spc. Victor Franco, from Tampa, Fla.
“His thing was that as long as something was done by the book, it was done right,” said Staff Sgt. Vincent Vetterkind, a squad leader with the 164th MP Company from Wausau, Wis. “He looked at it as, if the Army actually worked the way the regulations state, it can be the greatest organization in history, and if people don't do that, they're screwing it up. Do it the way it says, do it the way it says.”
Bell's commander, Capt. Christopher Gehri, of Anchorage, Alaska, said Bell was extremely tactically and technically proficient and could recite information from field manuals as well as Army regulations.
“From the very beginning, Sgt. Bell demonstrated a maturity well beyond his years,” Gehri said. “He demanded hard work, opportunities to grow and professionally develop, and held his peers accountable 100 percent of the time. Sgt. Bell thrived on all things Army. Disciplined, determined problem solver and critical thinker – these are the words and traits that will always resound in my mind when I think of Sgt. Bell. He never deviated from a standard.”
The soldiers in his platoon all said his dedication was unparalleled.
“He was one of the most passionate people I ever met in my life,” Vetterkind said. “His short-term goal was to be promoted to sergeant, which happened posthumously and his long-term goal was to be sergeant major of the Army, and I have no doubt he would have done it, absolutely none. He was a natural leader.”
He competed in 22 boards, and won them all.
Still, with all his professionalism and his disciplined nature, Bell did have a softer side.
“He liked ‘chick flicks',” Pfc. Stacey Jordan, from Belmont, N.Y., remembered with a smile. “He used to watch them with me and Sgt. Snyder. He loved the movie The Notebook. He wouldn't care if someone would tease him about them either. He would say, ‘I don't care, they're fun, they're good movies!'”
The soldiers also said he was always there to listen to them and assist with their problems. Still, they said, if they were wrong, he would hear them out and tell them why they were wrong, often reciting a regulation.
Bell was born Jan. 5, 1990, in Saint Joseph, Mich., and joined the Army in 2008. He served as a team leader, gunner, driver and military police patrolman with the 164th. His military awards include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.
He is survived by his wife and Lana Bell.
“Sgt. Bell spoke often of his wife and their 1-year-old daughter, ” Gehri said. “If you asked him about his family, he would tell you that there could be no more perfect of a family than that he and his wife had created.”
One thing that showed through was the respect Bell's soldiers had for him.
“Sgt. Bell was the best leader I had in my military career,” an emotional Spc. Justin Tobener from Tracy, Calif., said in his remarks recalling his fallen sergeant.
“I remember talking to Sgt. Bell for three or four hours just a couple days before this happened,” Vetterkind recalled. “And I remember him saying all that he wanted to do was just make a difference. That's what he wanted to do, in ever way and every day. This was the only thing that could stop him.”