A Tyler Texas man was killed in action in Afghanistan Thursday.
1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell, 37, was killed in action Thursday by an improvised explosive device during operations in Zharay District, Kanadahar Province, Afghanistan.
Also killed was Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton, 26, of Largo, Fla.
Both men were paratroopers assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
Bell joined the Army on Jan. 24, 1996 as an infantryman. He attended One Station Unit Training and U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Ga., before reporting to Camp Casey, Korea, for his first assignment.
After spending a year in Korea, Bell reported to Fort Bragg where he served at various levels for more than five years and then transitioned to drill sergeant duties at Fort Jackson, S.C. Following his tour at Jackson, Bell returned to the airborne community with the 508th PIR in Italy and subsequently returned to Fort Bragg where he served as a 1st sergeant for more than three years in two different units, most recently with the HHC,1st Battalion, 508th PIR.
This was his fourth combat deployment to Afghanistan over the course of seven years.
"1st Sgt. Russell Bell was one of the best all around leaders I have had the privilege of serving alongside in over 18 years of military service," said Lt. Col. Ced Carrington, 1-508th Commander.
"His presence alone made each day brighter. He constantly shared stories that put smiles on Trooper's faces. He always looked for opportunities to make those around him laugh - particularly during tough situations. 1st Sgt. Bell made a difference every day and all who worked anywhere near him were immediately drawn to his personality."
Bell's training and accomplishments include Airborne School, Air 's Assault School, Warrior's Leader Course, Advanced Leader's Course, Drill Sergeant School, Jumpmaster School, U.S. Army Ranger Course and the Senior Leader's course.
His awards include the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with five bronze knots, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon with the numerical three, the NATO medal, the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge.