4th Commander - Major General William Bell
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4th Commander
White Sands Proving Ground
Page 4 of 33
Major General William Bell
Commander
Aug 1, 1954 - Jan 31, 1956

     Major General William L. Bell, 4th Commander of White Sands Proving Ground/Missile Range, was born at Norfolk, Virginia on 5 June 1904. He attended John Marshall High School at Richmond, Virginia and Hampden-Sidney College at Farmville, Virginia prior to entering the United States Military Academy on 1 July 1925. He was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and commissioned a Second Lieutenant on 13 June 1929. He was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Georgia and while there, completed the Company Officers Course at the Infantry School.
     He was detailed to the Ordnance Corps on 1 July 1932, and sent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1933, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He then attended the Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and was graduated in 1934. On 5 March 1936, he was permanently transferred to the Ordnance Corps and promoted to Major on 10 October 1941.
     Early assignments with Ordnance included Picatinny Arsenal, Watertown Arsenal, Springfield Armory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, and as an instructor in Ordnance and Gunnery at the United States Military Academy. During the early stages of World War II, General Bell was responsible for the establishment of numerous small arms plants throughout the United States. He served as a member of the Ordnance Department Board in 1942 and 1943, and had assignments in the Ammunition Branch of the Industrial Division, and the Ammunition Division of the Industrial Service, both in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance. During World War II, he spent 15 months in the China-Burma-India Theater as Theater Ordnance Officer.
     Returning to the United States, General Bell was assigned to the Atomic Energy Commission, to investigate military application of atomic energy and was promoted to Colonel (Permanent) on 17 March 1952. Following his assignment with the Atomic Energy Commission, he assumed command of Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, New Jersey, in July 1953 and received promotion to Brigadier General on 21 January 1954. He became Commanding General of White Sands Proving Ground on 1 August 1954, succeeding General Eddy who had retired on 21 July 1954. Included among his decorations were the Legion of Merit and the Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant.
     General Bell was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Ordnance on 31 January 1956 as Assistant Chief of Research and Development. He was promoted to Major General on 16 March 1956, but died unexpectedly three days later of a cerebral hemorrhage.