Warrior Spotlight – Roy Bell
Roy grew up in North Charleston, South Carolina, as a military brat and the son of a Retired Air Force Master Sergeant. He knew from an early age what he was going to do with his life and by the age of 17 he joined the Army National Guard in 1997, and active duty two years later. He enlisted as a Heavy Wheeled Vehicle Operator, essentially a truck driver.
Roy was stationed all around the US, first at Hunter Army Airfield in Savanna, Georgia, then at Ft. Bragg, Ft. Benning, and finally, Ft. Lee. He accumulated three combat deployments to Iraq (Jan ‘03 – Feb ‘04; Jan – Dec ‘05; March ‘07 – June ‘08). “The first deployment was the easiest because that’s when you could identify who the enemy was,” Roy said. “They weren’t advanced yet, you could tell when something was gonna happen. What made it difficult afterward was the enemy would blend into the population and began using IEDs”.
Roy drove in large convoys back and forth from Kuwait and Baghdad and mainly saw firefights during his first tour. His second deployment was to Bacuba, Iraq, before his team was reassigned to “Hell on Earth”, commonly referred to as Ramadi. “We were constantly engaged with the enemy, every night our convoys received contact. There were a lot of injuries and fatalities during that deployment.”
“My final deployment was to Rustamiyah, southeast Baghdad and just south of Sadr City, which was another ‘Hell on Wheels’.” Although Roy didn’t go outside the wire much on his final deployment — mostly because he was the logistical coordinator for the battalion — he still experienced the toll of war. “Part of my job was processing in and out vehicles, working with the remains of friends or teammates that were killed, and sending Hero Flights to get the bodies out.”
After surviving war, Roy medically retired on August 31, 2009, with 12 total years of service to the nation.
Healing Unseen Wounds
Since returning from Iraq, Roy has been there and done that in terms of trying ways to cope with his experiences. “I’ve had a hell of a recovery process that’s for sure; working with other organizations and different mental health programs, the surgeries, I had a bad drinking problem, thoughts of killing myself, things finally seem to be turning around,” he said.
The sport of golf has helped heal unseen wounds for combat veterans across all wars and conflicts. When I first asked Roy about his golf background he laughed and said, “I couldn’t even watch golf, I never understood it or gave it an opportunity. This is my first year golfing and I try to get out at least once a week now.” Some veterans enjoy the social aspect of golfing, but for Roy it’s getting out on the links away from the stressors of life. “It’s not about being great, it’s about being away from everything. Golf keeps you disconnected from your problems and allows you that time to relax, regroup, and refocus.”
A New Chapter
“Currently I am unable to work because of my disabilities, but I serve and give back. I am a licensed and ordained minister at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Prince George, Virginia, and I’m in charge of the Audio/Visual ministry. Since being involved with Fairways For Warriors, Tom and I have discussed implementing a Chaplain program to provide holistic healing. I will be the Lead Chaplain for Fairways.”
Faith is a big part of Roy and his family’s lives, as he also participates in Bible Study once a week online. He enjoys spending time with his wife Mary and three living children: Kiara (18), Roy III (6), and Aaron (4). “I would not be where I am now without God and without the loving support of my wife,” Roy emphasized.
His oldest daughter Kiara is shipping out for basic training in January ‘19 to continue the legacy of service. Although Roy is relatively new to golf, he hopes to bond further with his son Roy III (FFW supplied Roy III with his own set of clubs to fulfill this wish) and help others achieve therapy they may not have tried before.