BELL, JAMES FRANKLIN
RIP  10/01/2014

Name: James Franklin Bell
Rank/Branch: United States Navy/O4
Unit: RVAH 1
Date of Birth: 29 April 1931
Home City of Record: Cumberland MD
Date of Loss: 16 October 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 211700 North 1074200 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RA5C
Missions: 35
Other Personnel in Incident: Capt. James Hutton, returnee
Refno: 0166

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.

REMARKS: 730212 RELEASED BY DRV


SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).

JAMES F. BELL JR .
Commander - United States Navy, pilot
Shot Down: October 16, 1965
Released: February 12, 1973

I was born in Akron, Ohio in 1931 where my father was employed by Goodyear.
During subsequent years we lived in several towns in New York State back to
Akron for a spell and then to Cumberland Maryland where I graduated from high
school in 1948. My parents still reside in Cumberland. My father retired from
Goodyear in 1966 with over 10 years of service in that fine company.
         
After two years of "prepping" at the University of Utah I entered the United
States Naval Academy from where I graduated in 1954. I went immediately to
flight training and won my wings of gold in November 1955. My next four years
were spent in two F-4D Skyray squadrons in San Diego California  and in 1959
it was back to school again at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey
California. Three  years later I emerged with an MS in Aeronautical
Engineering and proceeded to Sanford Florida with orders to VAH-1 flying the
A3J-1 Vigilante.
         
I found myself still in the same squadron three years later. The squadron was
now designated RVAH-1 flying a reconnaissance version of the Vigilante
designated the RA5C aboard the USS Independence  in the Gulf of Tonkin. On 16
October 1965 my luck ran out and I fell victim to AAA fire on a low level
reconnaissance mission north of Haiphong. I made it to the sea before ejecting
but after 30 minutes in the water my crewman Lt. Cmdr. Duffy Hutton and I were
picked up by local fishermen in sampans. I was tied to the mast of the sampan
and as I recalled the movie I had watched in the wardroom the night before was
"Two Years Before the Mast" with Dana Andrews I broke into a laugh. It was my
last laugh for a long, long time.
         
During the subsequent 89 months of detention in North Vietnam I never  doubted
for a minute that the day would come when I would return to the land of the
free. Nor did I ever lose faith in myself  and my abilities to withstand the
physical and mental rigors of prison life. Now that the ordeal is over and I
am reunited with my family and my three fine children and I look back at the
long association with so many outstanding fighting men and the wonderful
homecoming afforded me by me countrymen I can only say "Thank God I am an
American."

==================================
James Bell retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He and his wife
Dora resided in Virginia until his passing.
CAPT James F. Bell, USN Ret (RIP)
NAMPOW
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Retired Navy Capt. James Bell is being remembered as a hero for enduring 7 1/2 years as a prisoner of war after the plane he was flying was shot down over Vietnam in 1965.

The Washington Post reports that Bell died Sept. 30 in Alexandria at age 83. His widow, Dora, says he died of complications from Parkinson's disease.

Bell was born in Akron, Ohio, and attended high school in Cumberland, Maryland. He graduated in 1954 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Bell described his treatment as a POW in a number of books, including one written by his wife. He said he spent about two months in leg chains for refusing to fill out a questionnaire that he thought might be used for propaganda.
 

Jim will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery....March 20, 2015. The service will be at the Old Chapel on Fort Myer at 11 a.m.
and a reception will be held at Fort Myer Officers Club after the internment.


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