Local Soldier Killed in Iraq
By: Christy Hendricks & Associated Press
CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. - A Caruthersville graduate has died in a helicopter crash during a nighttime operation in northern Iraq.
Ricky Bell, 21, was one of 14 soldiers who were in a Black Hawk helicopter. Bell graduated from Caruthersville High School in 2005.
Friends and teachers remember Bell as someone who made people laugh.
"I remember his smiling face everyday. He was always laughing, getting kids in good moods, spirits," said Dona Clark, Bell's former teacher.
"He knew everyboody. He was always friends with everybody. He talked to everybody. He was always a happy person. It's a sad day," said Thomas Guest, a friend.
Ricky Bell was due to come home on leave September 13th.
His aunt, Glenda Overbey, says he had been in Iraq since June, where he turned 21 on June 30th.
Bell joined the military after graduating from Caruthersville High School in 2005. He was based in Seattle.
The four crew members and ten passengers aboard were assigned to Task Force Lightning.
But Overbey said Bell's unit was the Dark Horse Warriors, not Task Force Lightning.
Overbey said Bell's body is not expected to return to Missouri until the middle of next week.
Jesse Pollard, 21, a 2003 graduate of Glendale High School from Springfield, Missouri, also died in the crash.
A statement says there is no indication the helicopter was shot down. Early signs point to some sort of mechanical problem.
Because of ambushes and roadside bombs, the military relies heavily on helicopters to move troops around. But dozens of choppers have crashed, either from accidents or hostile fire.
The latest crash is the worst since January 2005. That's when a Sea Stallion transport went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 Americans.