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Paul E. Bell


1925 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
COLONEL PAUL E. BELL, USAF Ret. Paul Edward Bell, Colonel, USAF (retired), fighter pilot and longtime resident of Riverside, CA, made his final high speed pass on November 16, 2016. He was 91 years old. Paul was born in Tarrytown, New York in 1925, the son of John C. and Pauline A. (Glass) Bell. Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet shortly after graduation from high school. He saw service during World War II as a B-24 crew member on the islands of Morotai, Indonesia and Okinawa, Japan in support of the final bombing offensive in the Pacific. During his life Paul was the beloved husband to his wife, the former Helen M. Lavin of Westminster, Maryland; became the father of four children and grandfather to four grandchildren. He provided tireless leadership in his love for his country and the local community, the U.S. Air Force and March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. Paul's command assignments included a fighter squadron in France, a Strategic Air Command detachment in Morocco, an advisor to a Vietnamese fighter wing, a Minuteman ICBM operations group in North Dakota and lastly at the 90th Strategic Missile Wing in Wyoming. Under his tenure as Wing Commander, the missile wing won the coveted Blanchard trophy, symbolic of the best missile wing in Strategic Air Command and received the Riverside Raincross trophy as the best wing in 15th Air Force. Paul's challenging staff assignments included a tour with the Air Force inspector general and an assignment as 15th Air Force Inspector General. He concluded his 33-year military career as the 15th Air Force Chief of Staff. During a career spanning World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War Paul flew 251 combat missions amassing 862 combat hours in fighter, bomber and rotary wing aircraft. His awards and decorations included the Legion of Merit with four oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with eleven oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal, the Asian Pacific, Korean, and Vietnam Campaign medals with 12 battle stars, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with silver star and honorary Vietnamese command pilot wings. He was an Air Force command pilot with 10,000 flying hours in 30 aircraft. He wore the Master Missileman badge. Paul was a graduate of the Air University's Command and Staff College and the Air War College. He earned an undergraduate degree in Education from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Science in International Affairs from the George Washington University. He held a lifetime teaching credential for the California Community Colleges. After his departure from the military Paul began a second career with Rockwell International in Anaheim, California. During his 15 years with Autonetics and Defense Electronics divisions, he held numerous positions in program management and marketing overseeing major contracts with domestic and international customers. His final assignment was the manager of Nuclear Effects and High Energy programs. Paul served his community, military support groups and veteran's organizations throughout his life. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Elks and the Newcomen Society. He was an area vice president for the California Air Force Association; was on the governing boards of the Silver Eagles, the March Field Museum, the Forum, Riverside Chamber Military Affairs Committee and 15th Air Force Association; was a flight captain for the Daedalians and the president of the Bob Hope chapter of the Air Force Association. Paul was instrumental to establishing several historic sites on March Air Reserve Base, persuaded Bob Hope to have the Riverside chapter of the Air Force Association named in his honor and established the chapter's annual "Air Crew Excellence Award" for airmen of the 4th Air Force. Paul dedicated this award to the memory of William R. Campbell and Lee Derrick, patriots who preserved the history of March Air Reserve Base. In 1995 Paul was recognized by Air Mobility Command as its citizen of the year. In 2015 the 452nd Air Mobility Wing dedicated their annual awards banquet to Colonel Bell. His contributions to the base, its units, its uniformed members and government employees preserve March Air Reserve Base's legacy in Riverside history. Paul is survived by his loving wife, Helen; their three daughters and one son - Celine M. Butler of Riverside, California; Sharon B. Neiman of Ladera Ranch, California; Colonel Christine B. Schlacter of Alexandria, Virginia; and Paul E. Bell Jr. of San Diego, California. He is also survived by his sister, Elizabeth B. Cancro of Tarrytown, New York. He is predeceased by his brothers, James C. Bell of Irvington-on-Hudson, New York and John A. Bell of North Point, Florida. Services will begin at 10:00 am on December 7th with a rosary and Mass at St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church followed by the interment at the National Cemetery in Riverside, California at 12:30 pm. Those who wish to honor Paul Bell's life are encouraged to consider a donation to the Daedalian Scholarship Fund in lieu of flowers. Please send to the Order of Daedalians 30th Flight, 17050 Arnold Drive, Box H-101, Riverside, CA, 92518 or contact at email address: [email protected]
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Published in Press-Enterprise on Nov. 27, 2016
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