Ted Bell had been in tough fights in World War II before.
Trained at The Citadel, the Atlanta native had hit the beach on Guam with the 77th Infantry Division. He was awarded a Silver Star for valor in the Philippines. He even thinks he heard the shot that killed famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle on Japans Ie Shima Island.
But this was something horrifyingly different.
On May 17, 1945, Bell, who now lives in Columbia, was a lieutenant commanding the 77ths Easy Company. Eight captains who had led the company before him had been killed or severely wounded. Bell was ordered to lead a charge up a key ridge, in broad daylight over exposed ground, and take the heart of the main Japanese defensive line on the Japanese home island of Okinawa.
Bells company took and held Ishimmi Ridge for three days during fighting that was so grim Bell still doesnt like to talk about it. More than one of his men died in his arms, including a soldier struck by a bullet that just as easily could have killed Bell. Of the 220 men he led up the ridge, only Bell and 22 others were left standing when relieved.