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Garnett "Bill" Bell

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Garnett 'Bill' Bell, USA, “a  retired GM-14, DoD, went to Vietnam as an infantryman in 1965 and  served four tours there.  Bell was awarded 20 individual decorations and numerous unit awards.  Bell later served as an instructor in the Department of Exploitation and Counterintelligence, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School.  During his career Bell served  in the 327th Airborne Battle Group, 101st Airborne Division, the 1/35th  Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division,  the 2/506th Parachute  Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the 101st MI Company, the  525th Military Intelligence Group, the Defense Language Institute, the  U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, the 6th Special Forces Group,  the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), the Four Party Joint Military  Team (FPJMT) and the Joint Task Force Full-Accounting. 

Bell's wife and son were killed and a daughter critically injured in April 1975, when the families of U.S. officials assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon were evacuated in conjunction with the 'Operation Babylift’ program.  After being evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the  American Embassy on the final day of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) (30  April 1975), Bell returned to postwar Vietnam as the first  official U.S. representative after the war ended when he was assigned as  the Chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi.  He served more than 12 years on the POW/MIA Search Teams.  An Airborne-Ranger and Jumpmaster, Bell eventually became a member of the Congressional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives.  Fluent in Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian, Bell is a graduate of Chaminade University and the co-author of Leave No Man Behind. Bell is employed as an investigator in the 12th Judicial District, western Arkansas.”


According to the book description of Leave No Man Behind, it “is the powerful story of Garnett "Bill" Bell's quest, at great personal cost, to find and bring home the POWs and MIAs of the Vietnam War. With his encyclopedic knowledge of the Vietnamese Communists and his fluency in various regional dialects, he penetrated the system the Communists had created to exploit American POWs for diplomatic concessions, or their remains and personal effects for financial rewards. In this book, Bell shares his perspective as a witness to history as it unfolded.”


John Hanzlik, the author of Soldier's Scent, said of Leave No Man Behind,  it “had me gritting me teeth and cussing. The stonewall that Bill Bell runs into time after time, yet keeps getting up for more is remarkable. I've always knew the MIA / POW issue hasn't been dealt with directly and honorably by the ones having the power to do so. Bill Bell breaks it down in an intelligent way for the rest of us, he's been there, done that. From the Vietnamese using our missing troops to further their agenda and look like the innocent, to our own people covering their ass with a smile, Leave No Man Behind connects the dots for me and gives hope that all the soldiers lost in Viet Nam will be found.”

Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War
Garnett "Bill" Bell  More Info

One reader of Leave No Man Behind said, “Whether or not a reader has the same take on the history of the POW-MIA issue as Bill Bell, most will be able to acknowledge that he took the issue to heart in a very active way. His commitment to the study of the languages of the region set him head and shoulders above the vast majority of NCOs and certainly all of the officers who were assigned to work the issue, and those linguistic skills for the most part served him very very well. Unfortunately, by the time Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia began to open up and the many years of almost hopeless interviews in refugee camps came to an end, the "issue" had devolved into a series of highly-publicized scams and silly bureaucratic turf struggles between bureaucracies with no missions, and inevitably was exploited by the odd politician or three. We ended up not serving the missing or their families as well as the naive among us would have expected. What was once a sacred cause degenerated into a comfortable meal ticket for many of those "involved," but in spite of all that, Bill often took stances which he knew would bring him his fair share of abuse. If anyone made an honest effort for an extended period of years, Bill did. Those that have hung on for decades sitting idle at the trough have much to answer for. Bill Bell was active in the pursuit of his life-defining mission, and that alone makes his writing worth our time and our respect.

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