Charles A. Bell

CHARLES A. BELL For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight; Major Bell distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement on 18 February 1968 while operating a lone, unarmed, extremely vulnerable experimental aircraft over Can Tho, Republic of Vietnam where sections of that city and an airfield had come under heavy hostile mortar and recoilless rifle fire. Enemy 50 caliber air defense weapons were also strategically placed around the city. Totally disregarding the hazard of enemy fire from the air defense weapons and incoming friendly artillery rounds, Major Bell repeatedly circled over and around Can Tho while directing and controlling a withering fire from four United States Army helicopter gunships, one Air Force fixed wing gunship and two Navy river patrol hosts. He remained on station approximately two hours and departed only when the enemy was compelled to break off the attack and withdraw. He was then informed by radio that his home base was under heavy mortar and ground attack. Assessing his available fuel and closest suitable alternate airfield, he elected to fly to Vung Tau. About 30 minutes from this alternate he was advised that the wind at Vung Tau had increased to above the safety limits for his aircraft. Unable to obtain contact with search radar and with no reliable navigational aids, he proceeded under marginal weather conditions to a safe landing at Bien Hoa with a minimum quantity of fuel remaining. Major Bell’s extraordinary achievement reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.