Retired July 1, 1972.
Major General John H. Bell is commander of the Third Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with headquarters at South Ruislip Air Station, Middlesex, England. As commander of the Third Air Force, he is responsible for maintaining assigned units and bases in an operational readiness status; conducting air and support operations as directed; and providing administrative, logistical support and other assistance as required to United States, NATO or allied units. Additionally, he represents the secretary of defense and furnishes advice to the United States ambassador on military assistance matters. He also represents the U.S. Air Force and other U.S Armed Forces in negotiations with the United Kingdom military and civilian agencies as may be necessary or directed.
General Bell was born in Lewistown, Pa., in 1916. He graduated from Lewistown High School in 1934 and from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., in 1939. Upon graduation from college, he was employed by the RCA Manufacturing Company and placed in their executive training program.
In May 1940 General Bell entered the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet. In December 1940 he graduated from flight training at Kelly Field, Texas, and received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant.
His first assignment was to Randolph Field, Texas, as an instructor. During 1942 and 1943, he was assigned first to Enid, Okla., as a sub-depot engineering officer and then to Independence, Kan., as the sub-depot commander. From September 1943 until August 1945, General Bell served in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the depot engineering officer at Bangalore, India, and then as the chief, Maintenance Division, for the Northern Air Service Area Command Headquarters in upper Assam, India.
General Bell next served at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., in the Logistics Division of Strategic Air Command. He attended the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from September 1947 to June 1948, and then was assigned to Strategic Air Command as deputy for materiel for the 92nd Bombardment Wing at Spokane Air Force Base, Wash. In March 1949 he was made the director for materiel, 311th Air Division, at Topeka, Kan.
From October 1949 until May 1951, General Bell served at Headquarters U.S. Air Force as a deputy to the assistant for foreign aid in the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. Following this assignment, he was the military executive officer to the undersecretary of the Air Force, Roswell Gilpatric.
In 1953 General Bell attended the Advanced Management Program, School of Business, Harvard University, and then went on to Air War College. After graduation in June 1954, he was assigned to Headquarters Fifth Air Force in Korea and later in Japan. In November 1955 he was assigned as commander of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Naha Air Base, Okinawa.
In 1957 General Bell returned to the United States and was commander of the 328th Fighter Group at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Mo. In August 1958 he was made vice commander of the 20th Air Division and in July 1959 became commander. He was transferred to Headquarters Air Defense Command in March 1960, where he was assigned as the assistant deputy for plans. In August 1961 he was assigned as the director of plans and policy, North American Air Defense Command and Headquarters Continental Air Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colo. He went to Brazil in July 1963 as chief, air section, Joint Brazil U.S. Military Commission and chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group.
He returned to the United States and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington D.C., in July 1965, where he served as the director of personnel training and education. In November 1966 he became director of Personnel Planning, and in June 1968 became assistant deputy chief of staff, personnel.
In July 1969 General Bell became commander, Third Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, South Ruislip Air Station, Middlesex, England.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. He is a command pilot.