Harrison City couple will host Army Ranger remembrance service at backyard memorial
State Rep. George Dunbar, R-Penn Township, remembers the first time he saw James Bell's memorial to the Army's K Company, 75th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division , in Bell's Harrison City backyard.
"It's something that was so unique and different," Dunbar said. "It was just so awesome."
The dedication ceremony for the monument, built in 2013 , brought visitors from all corners of the country. That will happen again later this month, when the Bells host a remembrance service five years after building it.
"We have 138 people on the list right now," said Antoinette Bell.
The monument has generated quite a bit of interest in the otherwise quiet cul-de-sac at the top of Whitetail Drive.
"Rep. Dunbar is a really an advocate," Antoinette said. "Anyone who's in town from Washington, D.C., a lot of times he brings them out here to see it."
Bell, who served more than two decades as a Nevada state trooper after returning home from Vietnam, felt duty-bound to build the memorial. He spent nearly $40,000 completing it.
"People you grew up with all your life, you don't have as close a relationship with as these guys (from your regiment) that you spent a year or so with," he said. "I felt it was my duty to honor these guys, some of whom I'll never see again."
Fifty-one soldiers from K Company were killed in action during the Vietnam War. They are memorialized on brick pavers surrounding a pole flying the American flag, and are flanked by two benches with angel sculptures overlooking them.
"It's very well done," Dunbar said.
At the July 25 remembrance service, VFW members from the North Huntingdon post will present the colors, North Huntingdon resident Brianna Lovett will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," "God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace," and several dignitaries will offer remarks including Dunbar and K Company Unit Director Roger Crunk. The Bell's 13-year-old granddaughter will present each Ranger in attendance with a memorial bracelet.
The service is open to the public, and James Bell said he's expecting visitors from near and far.
"Kansas, New York, Georgia, Michigan, there are folks coming from all over," he said. "For myself, there's a real sense of pride that I was fortunate enough to afford to do something like this for the guys I served with."
"Jim would describe himself as 'a grunt,'" Dunbar said. "He's a normal guy doing something to remember his friends. And it's very inspiring."
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.