ONLY WVLT: East Tennessee's General on the Army, Honor, and Vol Football Too

By: Bob Yarbrough
By: Bob Yarbrough

Knoxville (WVLT) - Dolly Parton and Kenny Chesney are East Tennessee natives known the world over.

But we're introducing you to a native commanding respect in a different way.

Volunteer TV's Bob Yarbrough sat down with a man who's climbed near the top of the Army ladder in an interview you'll only see on WVLT.

Sometimes in life, the most innocent decisions lead to the grandest of circumstances.

"I signed up for Army ROTC at the University of Chattanooga because it was a requirement of my university," says General B.B. Bell.

That was four stars and 37 years ago, a college requirement put Oak Ridge native BB Bell in the ROTC and started a path that now has him leading thousands of US Army Forces in South Korea.

"I think goal setting and individual responsibility are the two things I learned in this area that I've carried all these years."

Life lessons straight from East Tennessee that he now applies during a time of war like never before seen.

A war that seeks to eliminate global terrorism, a war that isn't always fought on a battlefield, a war that stirs general bell's passion about preserving the way of life he remembers from growing up in Oak Ridge.

"It is a battle worth fighting, it is a battle we must fight, it is a battle we will win," says General Bell. "Our nation has stood and is delivering and we ought to have political discourse about the right way of doing it, whether we should defend our nation ought not be at issue and it's not, and I'm proud of Americans for that."

General Bell's trip back home to East Tennessee is a time to reconnect with family and friends, but more importantly it's a time to reconnect the Army's present to the Army's past.

Swearing in several new soldiers, and righting past wrongs by issuing medals and honors to an 87-year-old World War II veteran.

"So the old, if you will, a great gentleman. And the new, the youngsters, all with one common purpose, to defend our Constitution and to make sure our kids and our grandchildren have the same opportunities that we have. I experienced all that, over the generations, in about a ten minute period. It was worth the trip here to do that," General Bell says.

Before B.B. Bell packs his bags and returns to the only way of life he's known since leaving Oak Ridge, there are a few more matters to tend to.

"I'm going dove hunting and trout fishing in East Tennessee, after this I'm sure," says Bell.

Then it's back to South Korea, back to the Army and back to a calling that was clear as a bell four decades ago.

General Bell is also satisfying another passion while in East Tennessee, he's going to the UT football game this weekend.

The General says the last time he can remember attending a game at Neyland Stadium, Joe Namath was playing for Alabama.


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