Document Type

Oral History

Interviewee name

Leo Bertram Bell


Stephen D. Rees, Jr.

Interview date


Interview location

Lewiston, Maine





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Leo Bertram Bell, interviewed by Stephen Rees at the Muskie Archives, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine on July 29, 1999. Bell is one of the 28 Vietnam Veterans interviewed as part of the original grant project. Bell, born in Lewiston, Maine, speaks about his early life living in the Home for Boys following his parents' divorce; doing poorly in school; his belief that if he served in the Army, "all these girls would fall over us;" enlisting at age 17; his training; being the youngest in his unit and being stationed in Georgia when his unit was deployed; landing in Vietnam 8 days after his 18th birthday; serving as a trucker in the 1st Infantry Division; being wounded and returning home; getting married and being told by his father telling him, "you're not a man unless you go back to Vietnam;" re-enlisting to serve his second tour; being wounded a second time and losing his best friend in the attack; being the only U.S. Veterans to lose a war; serving at Fort Devons, Massachusetts on funeral detail for two and a half years; not being able to hold down a job due to PTSD following his discharge; earning his Associates degree; earning a BA in Criminal Justice; living and trying to find work with a disability; receiving his Master's degree in Counseling Education; starting a counseling business for Veterans in Aroostook County; teaching at the University of Maine, Presque Isle and the University of Maine, Fort Kent; being stripped of emotions by the Army; grappling with PTSD, divorce, kidney, cancer and anger; attending the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial in 1983; the effects of Agent Orange on soldiers and on his youngest son; the U.S. Government's treatment of disabled veterans; the use of dioxin along roadsides in Maine in the late 1970s; race relations in Vietnam; the Domino Theory; the impact of patriotic "God, duty, country" propaganda; and the burden of preserving freedom. Text: 34 pp. transcript. Time: 01:41:56.


Part 1. mfc_na4491_01A
Part 2. mfc_na4491_01B
Part 3. mfc_na4491_02A


Military History | Oral History | United States History

Birth date

September 4, 1949


Lewiston, Androscoggin County, Maine

Death date

January 20, 2003


Togus VA Medical Center, Augusta, Kennebec County, Maine

Nation of origin

United States

Home state/Territory







Self-employed at Aroostook Rehabilitation Services and Aroostook Disabled Veteran’s Rehabilitation


Experienced 23 ambushes. Wounded June 19th, 1968. Wounded September 10, 1970.

Branch of service

U.S. Army

Service Unit

1st Infantry Division, aka “The Big Red One”

Dates of service

1967-1968; 1970-1971, September 4, 1967

Date of entry

May 20, 1905

Service entry


Location of Service

Long Bình

Awards & Ribbons

Purple Heart

Wars & Conflicts

Vietnam War

Entry Rank

E-1 Private


SP5 E-5 Specialist 5


SP5 E-5 Specialist 5


2nd Lieutenant Johnson; Larry Coach; Sergeant Kearns; Michael David Nolan


Georgia; Long Binh, Vietnam; Massachusetts; Alaska; Germany; Japan


Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Military casualties; Military funerals; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Collection name

Maine Vietnam Veterans Oral History

Collection number


Item number


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Leo Bertram Bell, interviewed by Stephen D. Rees, Jr., Part 2



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