David B. Bell, 92, a retired Navy rear admiral who twice during World War
II received the Navy Cross, the branch's second-highest medal for
extraordinary heroism, died July 9, 2005 of congestive heart failure at
Ginger Cove assisted living facility in Annapolis.
Adm. Bell was awarded his Navy Crosses while serving in the Pacific as
commanding officer of the submarine USS Pargo in 1945. The citation for
the first Navy Cross states that Adm. Bell, then a lieutenant commander,
directed the submarine in a special three-day mission that greatly assisted
Allied navies in clearing an area in Japanese enemy waters. The Pargo sank
hostile ships, then avoided two severe depth-charge attacks before returning
safely to port.
In a subsequent war patrol, for which Adm. Bell received the gold star
denoting a second award, the submarine penetrated anti-submarine barriers
in the Sea of Japan, where it launched torpedo attacks against heavily
escorted Japanese convoys, sinking two freighters and damaging two others.
His duties after World War II included commands of two other submarines,
flag secretary to the commander of submarines in the Atlantic Fleet,
submarine detail officer in the Bureau of Naval Personnel and commander
of Submarine Division 62 and Submarine Squadron Six.
In the 1960s, he served as commodore of Submarine Squadron 14 in Holy
Loch, Scotland, and as Supreme Allied Deputy Commander Atlantic for
NATO. He appeared to be in line for the post of commander of the
submarine fleet in the Pacific in 1968 when he had a heart attack.
He finished his tour with the chief of naval operations staff at the Pentagon,
then served as deputy commandant of academic affairs at the National War
College at Fort Meade. He retired from active military duty in 1970.
Adm. Bell, who lived in Annapolis since 1991, was born in Fargo, N.D.,
and raised in Washington, where he attended Central High School,
Columbian Preparatory School and George Washington University.
As a young man, he served as a fireman in the Naval Reserve
He entered the Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1934, served as captain of
the fencing team and graduated in 1937. He also received a master's degree
in mechanical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Annapolis.
He served on battleships before transferring to the submarine fleet. In
addition to the Navy Cross with gold star, his military decorations include
the Silver Star and Bronze Star.
In recent years, Adm. Bell belonged to St. Anne's Episcopal Church in
Annapolis and attended Naval Academy functions, sailed and traveled
His wife, Mary Elizabeth Bell, died in 1985.
Survivors include his wife of four years, Margaret Bomar Bell of Annapolis;
two children from his first marriage, Ann Bell Layman of Daleville, Va., and
William Bonar Bell of Oakton; four stepchildren, Patricia Ray Nalley of
Annapolis and Lycille Ray Stabler, Thomas D. Ray III and Edward Bomar
Ray, all of Birmingham, Ala.; and 13 grandchildren.