Freedom Fighters: J. Franklin Bell

By Joan Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

(KLTV) - Former sailors from the USS J. Franklin Bell, who served their country in World War II, are reuniting in Tyler this week. It's been 68 years since the ship first carried men into battle. But, memories of those war times remain.

Tom Lyons of Flint, who's hosting this year's J. Franklin Bell National Convention, boarded the Bell just after the ship's first invasion at Adak. From the first three invasions in the icy waters near Alaska, the Bell went on to take troops into six invasions in the torrid South Pacific.

Doug Webb and Bob Tagatz, also in Tyler for the convention, say when they get together with their former shipmates, they don't talk "war stories" they tell "sea stories" and what tales they have to tell.

Most of the crew of the Bell were only 17 and 18 at the time. Now well into their 80s, the former sailors say they are proud to have defended their country.

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