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2004.11.11

This post authorized, acknowledged, and made possible, by Jack Gell's wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Carol.

"Tell My Wife I Love Her..."
The true story behind the words of a fallen hero
By Carol Crowley, daughter of Sgt. Jack Gell

Jackgell1stcav_3 Jack_rebecca_wedding2_s40_1Sgt. Jack Gell was a career soldier who knew the  moment he laid on eyes on Rebecca that he would marry her. He said that to his buddies..."That's the girl I'm going to marry" And he did. Blessed with extremely good looks, he would flash his ring when eyed by other women, proud of his lovely bride and each of his children. He wrote to his sister Fran a series of letters that went like this..."Fran, I met the most beautiful girl in the world... Love, Jack" . " Fran... I married her... Love, Jack" "Fran... here's a picture of the most beautiful baby in the world... Love, Jack". He was a proud husband and father gifted with good looks and a talent for drawing. His art reflects his admiration of his wife, and his creativity in abstracts as well. He and Leslie (Les) Staley made a wooden sign out of pine that said "Alpha Angels" during an 11th Air Assault Field training exercise.

Serving the 1st Calvary in Korea from 60-61, he reenlisted and was stationed in Fort Benning in '61. His unit then became the 11th Air Assault/ First Cav. In 65 he got orders to go to the Ia Drang Battle in Vietnam. The day he left, the family took a picture together. He told Rebecca he forgot something and ran back inside. He grabbed her dark pink lipstick and wrote on the bedroom mirror... "I love you Beck... Your Jay". She would later see that, and as of today, still has that mirror...encased in a beveled frame with his writing still in tact... His daughter Bonnie tearfully asked him why he had to go and would they try to hurt him. He told her he was going to war but would not let them hurt him. He told his wife he would be back "Because I have too much to live for not to come back to" and he added, "You can't keep a man like me down."

Gellfamily65_4Gellfamily652t_1His wife and 3 children drove him to the bus... Bonnie 6, Jay 3, Carol 13 months... Rebecca cried so hard that the stack of diapers was wringing wet with her tears. The deepest pain filled her heart as she watched her beloved leave... and said goodbye for what would be the last time. Jack Gell willingly served his country knowing what might happen. He wore his Carol's pacifier around his neck, a lock of hair from his Bonnie and Jay, and family photos in his wallet of his beloved bride and children. He wrote to Rebecca telling her his devotion to the fight for the freedom we so richly enjoy today. He wrote, "The fighting men in Vietnam are true believers in freedom. They fight for it, they get wounded for it, and they are willing to die for it. God gave us freedom and with it came a way of life. For the people that will fight and die for their God given rights, there will always be a safe place to live and raise a family... anyway, I'll have done my part, and I feel that it is a good part. I'll also know I can come home to and my children and feel free and happy in our daily life." He also told her..."I have loved you every second of every day I have known you.." What greater compliment could a man pay his country and especially his wife?

Gell_graveSgt. Jack Gell never made it home. He volunteered to carry the radio for Captain Tony Nadal on November 14, 1965. He was killed when crossing the creek bed to go help locate the lost platoon. His dying words....."Tell my wife I love her...." His body was the first to arrive to Ft Benning. Rebecca notified by a telegram, alone with three small children...Inconsolable and in shock, the EMTs gave her medication to help her sleep. Heartbroken, she asked..."Will it last forever?"

As I sat at the movie premiere in Columbus, Ga, with my Mother, brother, sister, and my stepfather, I felt more concerned with them. I saw the hurt and pain as they saw the movie, saw the reenactment of my fathers death, those words echoed in our heads...."Tell my wife I love her..." As my family wept I felt the power of his undying love even then. I wanted to shout out loud "NO!!! Please don't die..." but I knew it was a movie, and I knew he was gone. Later, my Mother said she felt the same thing.

FtbenninggravephotoWe all met at my father’s grave, with my father’s best friend and his wife, John and Shirley Rangel, and one of my Dads sisters, Kathleen and her daughter. We talked openly about the emotions of this movie, and the outcome was similar for us all... The war is over, but the battle still scars the veterans, the families, the friends all left behind. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway have been very kind to us, included us in the events surrounding the story, and welcomed us with love. They feel our pain, and share the grief in our loss. Hal Moore is an angel... He is truly respected and admired by our family. In his address before the movie, he spoke about his visit to the graves of his men. He reflected about my father, and the family photo that was placed in front of my father’s grave touched him deeply. It was the last family picture taken together.

The men of Ia Drang are real heroes, as well as all the men of this war, and every war we have fought. Let us never forget the price we have paid, making the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of America. And let us not tolerate those who disrespect it.

"Gary Owen!"  You can email Carol here: swak917@aol.com

Hal Moore and Joe Galloway with Jack Gell's family at Fort Benning,
Carol Gell Crowley 2004

Mooregallowaygells02 Carol2004

THE ANGELS CRIED WITH ME

No one knows how much I cry
How many times I wished I'd die.
Is life just a cruel game?
A test to see who remains sane?
Hours on end, staring at the falling rain,
Only God, the Angels, and I, feel this pain.
The Angels cry with me, or so I say
It helps me get through another day.
My children walk in, "Mommie, why you crying"?
I hug them close and talk about dying.
God leaves us here for a reason,
And He calls some home every season.
You see, the rain must really be,
All the Angels in Heaven crying with me.
God called your Dad to be with Him.
I know in my heart, he is now one of them.
As very much as we all needed him,
Even on earth, your Dad was one of them!
God must have really needed your Dad
To call him away and leave us so sad.
He must have needed him, even more than we,
And one day, we'll all know why it had to be!

Written by:  Rebecca Seigler Gell Workentine
copywritten 2002

Ftbenninggravephoto

Jack Gell, Soldier and musician
Jack_gell_face_2 Gellguitar

Rebecca Gell Workentine, Bonnie, Jay, and Carol at Ft Benning:
Ftbenningbeckkids

Please click here to see more of my (still growing) Sgt. Gell collection.

Posted by Bill Faith on November 11, 2004 at 12:02 AM in Sgt_Gell | Permalink


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