Angus Bell was born November 1, 1916 in Spangle, WA. He knew
he would be a pilot when he saw his first airplane, a mail
plane, at age 3. His family moved back to Oak Park/Maywood,
IL by auto (!) when he was around 12 years old. He graduated
from Proviso High School in 1935. He attended Austin Junior
College at night so he could work for Sears Roebuck days.
This enabled him to pay for flying lessons unknown to his
mother. He was a licensed pilot when he was drafted June 17,
1941, just for a year (he thought). At Ft. Lewis, WA, in 1942,
he applied for aviation cadet training. He was accepted and
sent to Santa Ana, CA.
The Army Air Corps was desperate for flight instructors. He
was one of 100 cadets, already licensed pilots that were singled
out for special flight instructor's training in September
1942 at Mather AAF, CA. They had primary, basic, advanced,
and instructor's training and finished in five months. He
was commissioned March 3, 1943,Class 43-A-1. While at Mather,
he met Shirley. They were married on May 22, 1943.
His first assignment was at Chico AAF, a basic-flight training
base. In good weather (most of the time in California) he
might fly with seven cadets a day. He had the highest standards
for his students to attain. After 15 months, he was transferred
to Marana, AZ (another basic base), but after two months,
he went to Roswell AAF, NM for 4-engine transition in B-17s.
After completing B-17 training, he was sent to Lincoln, NE,
joining hundreds of officers and airmen waiting to be assigned
to B-29 training bases. It was in Lincoln that he grew his
trademark mustache. Here also, he and his wife met very dear
friends, Dr./Col. Lew Hoffman and wife, Debbie.
Shirley and Taffy (his cocker spaniel) tagging along, he
arrived in October 1944 at Smoky Hill AAF, Salina, Kansas.
There, his crew was formed and he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
Air crew: Tom Bell, AC; Dick Harrison, pilot; Joe Callaghan,
Nav.; Elmer Jones, Radar; Dick Baldridge, Bombardier; George
Beaver, Flight Engineer; David Schulman, Radio Opr; John
Essing, CFC; David Potters, L gunner; Ralph Johnson, R gunner;
and Thomas F. Smith, tail gunner. Ground crew: S/Sg1 Edward
Lally, Crew Chief; Sgt. Wally J. Bodner; Sgt. Anthony Mangiaracina;
Cpl. Jack Donathan; and PFC Angelo Repucci. During that
winter, crews were rotated to Cuba for tropical atmosphere.
and his crew picked up their B-29 at Herington, KS. In March
1945, Shirley and Taffy headed to Sacramento with Debbie
Hoffman for company. They decided to stop at the Grand Canyon
overnight -- the same day he flew P10 down the canyon. The
greatest picture of Tom was taken then; he was smiling and
doing what he loved.
crews gathered at Mather AAF for several days before rotating
to Guam. Because of the diligent, hardworking ground and
air crew P10 was a great B-29, performing exceptionally
well. After arriving at North Field, Guam, Tom wrote the
Johnson Wax Co. and received a case of wax. He actually
had his crews out there with him waxing P10 to gain more
performance from this great B-29. On June 26, 1945, P10
and crew flew the longest mission of WW II, 4,650 miles
in 23 hours to do reconnaissance of Hokaido. The story appeared
in stateside newspaper. Tom felt his ground crew were due
special credit for this flight. The A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima
and Nagasaki forced the Japanese to surrender which left
flight crews, ground crews and support personnel with nothing
with Tom as AC and George Beaver as engineer, was chosen
to fly to Mather to pick up hobby kits - Yes; hobby kits!
- for the troops back on Guam. Other personnel were chosen
to make up the remaining crew and passengers. Upon arrival
at Mather they were told they had too many "points"
and weren't allowed to fly back to Guam. Tom received his
promotion to Capt. at this time.
3 ½ months at Smyrna, TN, six months at McClellan,
James Michael was born on July 5, 1946. In August 1946,
he was assigned to Tinker AAB as chief of the flight test
section. He loved it there. He flew everything; even performing
aerobatics in the P-80 at air shows in the vicinity.
1947, the Army Air Corps became a separate service as the
USAF. Tom's ranks were made permanent in the regular USAF
on the first round chosen. His assigned number was FR10459.
was next assigned to a troop carrier squadron at Borinquen,
later Ramey Field, in Puerto Rico, and later at Albrook
in the CZ. From Albrook, he flew C-54s down the west coast
of South America and across the Andes (such great mountains!)
to Uraguay. They were not allowed to go into Argentina.
The missions were to transport embassy personnel and supplies.
Albrook ops never knew where they were. If there was mechanical
trouble, they had to rely on Panagra, a South American branch
of Pan American Airlines.
Berlin Airlift caught up with Tom in October 1948 and he
was assigned to Fassberg in the British zone of West Germany.
He never forgot all the brussels sprouts the Brits cooked.
This move left Shirley, James Michael (aged 2+) and the
car to get home to Sacramento. He had to fly a C-54 to Brooks,
AFB and took Taffy to stay with friends at Randolph AFB
where Shirley picked him up.
arrived home in Sacramento in June of 1949 when the airlift
ended. One night we went to the movies at Mather AFB. Behind
us sat Leo Lewis and his crew. Needless to say, there was
a lot of reminiscing later at the Officer's Club.
next assignment was to Carswell AFB and B-36s. His first
ride in a B-36 should have been written up for posterity
or a movie plot. When the four jet engines were added to
the six recip pushers, the B-36 really performed. David
was born August 12, 1950 at Carswell AFB.
and his crew were among the first to go to survival school
near Pike's Peak. Guess who he met and shook hands with:
General Curtis LeMay who was checking on conditions there.
During this tour of six years at Carswell, he was always
an instructor pilot - B-36s and T-33. He taught General
"Three Finger" Jack Ryan to fly the T-33 and guess
again, who was told to mind his manners while training with
Tom in the T-33! Tom was also involved in the B-36 feather
weight program. He was on one of these lengthy flights -
32-36 hours -- when Thomas Scott Bell was born on May 28,
1953 at CAFB Hosp.
August 1955, he was sent to Staff & Command School at
Maxwell AFB. One weekend while there we went to Ft. Walton
Beach, FL to visit with Ace Edwards (Crew 8) and Eve. Ace
was at Tyndall AFB. His next assignment was to RAF Mildenhall
Air Base group, in USAF ops. Our trip over to England was
on an old WW II troop carrier ship. En route, the Queen
Elizabeth passed us!
lived in new RAF quarters at Mildenhall. The USAF shared
the base with the RAF and Tom worked closely with RAF ops.
He was invited to fly in RAF jets: Vulcan and the Victor.
Our neighbors and dear friends were Maj. Wilson and Madeline
Benton and Capt. Tex Henderson and Nita. Tex was C.O. of
the Air Police squadron. A great honor and farewell was
bestowed on Tom and Tex when they were "dined out"
at RAF Mildenhall by Hqtrs 3 Group and were presented with
a plaque. The Bells and Hendersons were invited for a farewell
dinner at Air Vice Marshall, Sir Mickie Dwyer's home. Our
3 years in England were wonderful and a fantastic experience.
Tom worked closely with the air refueling group from Plattsburg
AFB and then the B-47 crews from Schilling AFB (our old
Smoky Hill AAF!)
a surprise when we left England in 1955 to be sent to Lake
Charles AFB, LA! Tom went to Wichita, KS to be check out
in the B-47. Somehow, somewhere, he became involved in maintenance
and at LCAFB he would be Assistant DCM and /or CMS CO. Four
years later, Lake Charles AFB was closing. Tom was assigned
to a B-47 wing at Lincoln AFB NE, in maintenance! LAFB was
closing too in 1965. We felt jinxed. In March of 1965, we
were transferred to Blytheville AFB and worked under Col.
John Livingston once more, a great gentleman. Col. Livingston
immediately appointed him president and chief instructor
of the base aero club in addition to his regular duties
as DCM/Assistant DCM.
of Tom's promotions were regular (no "spot" promotions
as in B-36s) and when he was passed over for full Col because
of the adjustment of the PLSD, he asked for an assignment
to Mather AFB. (Col. Livingston was in personnel at SAC
retired June 30, 1968. He immediately began civilian flight
instructing, first with the McClellan Aero Club, then others.
Later he chose to fly only with advanced students. A humorous
anomaly occurred when the B-52 ACs from Beale AFB came to
Tom at Lincoln Air Field, CA to obtain their ATP ratings
in a Cessna 172!
the years, the crew of P10 has kept in touch. Tommie Smith
(tail gunner) came out in 1990 to stay with Tom when Shirley
had surgery. We enjoyed his visit. His P10 crew always gave
him credit for returning them home from the Pacific WW II
air war over Japan.
passed away on January 24, 1997
and inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.
above biography provided by Shirley Bell, she can
be emailed at:email@example.com
son Scott can be emailed at: SnJmodprod@aol.com