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2004.12.02

John Rangel remembers Jack Gell

John Rangel sends these memories of Jack Gell:

Jack Gell and I were stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. We knew each other then but did not get to really know each other until we shared the same cabin aboard the ship that was taking us to Viet Nam. At night we talked a lot about our families and how much they meant to us and how hard it had been to leave them and how much we missed them. He told me about his wife Becky, his little girl Bonnie, his son Jay and his baby girl Carol. He also told that they had stayed in Columbus, Ga. I told him about my wife Shirley, my son Steve (2yrs.old) and my son David who was 10 months old. Since Shirley and the boys were staying in Columbus too, we thought it would be a good idea for the two of them to meet. I wrote to Shirley and told her about Sgt. Gell's' wife and the children. I suggested that she look her up.

When we docked in San Diego, He went ashore and met with his mom. He was very happy to see her and spend some time with her. He was one of the few who actually got to meet with family members on that stop. I have often thought about how special it was for him to be able see his mom before we continued on our way to Viet Nam.

As we continued on our journey, we would talk about our mission and how we felt about what we were doing. We felt we were doing the right thing and we were both so glad that our families were safe in the United States. Neither of us knew anything about War, except that we had been training for it. We knew the situation was very serious and there was a possibility that we might not make it back home alive. When our ship finally docked in Viet Nam and we were ready to leave our cabin. We exchanged these words," If something happens and I don't make it back, will you look after my family." We told each other that we would do this. We both cried as we shook hands and embraced each other. And then we left to join the rest of the men on deck.

On November 14th, 1965, Gell was killed in the Ia Drang Valley Battle. I was wounded and then sent to Letterman Gen. Hospital in San Francisco. Three months later when I was released from the hospital and went back to Columbus, Ga. I met Becky and the children for the first time. We have a very special friendship. Shirley and Becky are best friends, our children are like brothers and sisters. They became a part of our family and we love them dearly.

I will close by saying, " Happy Birthday my friend and you will never be forgotten."

John Rangel Jr.

GARRY OWENS

Thank you for sharing that with us John, and for your service to our nation.

(Please click here to see my entire "Sgt Gell" collection.)

Posted by Bill Faith on December 2, 2004 at 04:57 AM in Sgt_Gell | Permalink


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