Soldier's teachers, classmates recall him as 'good kid'

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

TREMONT – Army Sgt. Christopher R. Bell was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, but in 21 short years he established a legacy to make his widow Samantha and 21-month-old daughter Lana proud.
Bell spent some of his growing-up years living in Golden, but he went to high school in Red Bay, Ala., for two years before spending his final two years at and graduating from Tremont High School.
Bell was one of four soldiers killed in Lagham Province, Afghanistan, during an attack on their mounted patrol by insurgents using an improvised explosive device. The four were military police who were assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
“Our hearts are heavy for the family at their loss,” said Red Bay Mayor Bobby Forsythe, the retired principal of Red Bay High School who remembered Bell in and out of school.
“Chris was a student when I retired, and he seemed a little more mature than others his age. After I retired I started working part-time with community education and supervised Chris for some community service hours.
“One of the projects he worked on was he and another guy painted the exterior of the Franklin County Board of Education building in Russellville. Then Chris helped paint inside walls and trim, helped with minor renovations at the Belgreen Community Education Building. He was so particular – did a fabulous job.”
After transferring to Tremont, Bell was attracted to the vocational education curriculum where he enrolled in the allied health program, said guidance counselor Sandy Evans.
“I worked with Chris a lot, and he was a good kid who tried hard,” Evans said. “He would come by every day and visit for a while. He had a lot of friends because he listened, the kind of friend you’d want to have.”
His special interest, she said, was working with the Health Occupations Students Association to plan blood drives.
“He was a big advocate and when he graduated he earned a red cord for giving blood,” Evans continued. “The minimum you could give to earn the cord was two times, but he gave way more than that, every opportunity he could.”
Tremont social studies teacher Amanda Yielding agreed with others who knew him that Bell displayed a quiet maturity and respect, “a good kid.”
Among his contemporaries he was well-liked, also.
“He transferred to Tremont and we became pretty good friends,” said Jake Evans, who graduated with Chris and is Sandy Evans’ son. “He was a good guy and I know when he joined the military he just had that personality to help people.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or

– Funeral arrangements for Army Sgt. Christopher R. Bell, killed last week in Afghanistan, had not been announced as of late Wednesday.

Click video to hear audio