An Erie County native was among three airmen who were killed Thursday in Afghanistan when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, the Pentagon announced Saturday.
Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Harborcreek was assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
Airman Bell, Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich., and Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md., were killed in the explosion in Shir ghazi, Helmand province. No further details were available.
The Erie Times News reported that Airman Bell joined the U.S. Air Force in 2006 and served a tour of duty in Iraq. As an explosive-ordnance disposal technician, his main job was to clear routes with two other servicemen in an armored vehicle, his father, Rick Bell of Harborcreek, told the newspaper.
Airman Bell last visited his dad over the summer, before his deployment to Afghanistan. He was still excited about his dangerous job, which gained notoriety with the movie “The Hurt Locker,” which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2010.
As a child, Airman Bell would spend his spare time at the fire station where his father has been a volunteer firefighter for 37 years, the Erie paper reported.
At 14 years old, Airman Bell joined the fire company as a junior fireman. By the time he had graduated from Harbor Creek High School in 2006, he had risen to the rank of senior fireman.
His mother, Donna Aldrich, lives in Harborcreek, and his wife, Alaina Hart Bell, lives in Louisiana, where he was stationed before deployment.
Funeral services, details of which are incomplete, will be held in Erie.
Senior Airmen Bell is the 1,867th American to die in Afghanistan … Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden