99-year-old WWII veteran from Richmond receives long-overdue service medals

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 99-year-old Richard Bell Jr. served in World War II after he was drafted just a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

While in the service, he earned six service medals. However, for whatever reason, he never received them.

All that changed Saturday.

Relatives did some background research and learned that Bell served under General George Patten as part of the esteemed Red Ball Express.

“The mission that he participated in, the Red Ball Express, when we talk to our young lieutenants and young sergeants, we talk about the criticality to Patton’s advance, and that’s the example we used,” said Brigadier General Jeffrey Drushal, an Army Chief of Transportation.

Bell’s unit comprised mostly of African Americans who transported ammunition and supplies on trucks.

Drushal was on hand for Bell’s long-overdue recognition and said he considers himself fortunate to be able to be in attendance.

“I take a great deal of pride in being an Army Logistician, and the fact that this gentleman is an Army Logistician is a great honor,” Drushal said.

A combined army command color guard took part in the ceremony in which Bell was presented with six service medals.

“We need to talk about, first of all, and honor the sacrifices that they made and that their families made during that period in our country’s history and that period in our country’s history was when America became a world power and that’s an important, important fact to remember,” Druschal said.

Bell was able to obtain his service medals thanks to US Congressman Dave Brat’s office and the national personnel records center in St. Louis.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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