Burwell Baxter “B.B.” Bell

UT Chattanooga, ’69

Burwell Baxter Bell

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.

When Gen. (ret.) B.B. Bell graduated from the then-University of Chattanooga and the ROTC Mocs Battalion in 1969, he planned a short stint in the military. But plans change. During his 39-year active-duty career, Bell traveled the world, commanded thousands of American and allied troops, and met U.S. presidents and world leaders.

Rising to the rank of four-star general, Bell commanded the U.S. Army in Europe, as well as NATO’s land component headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. Later, he served as the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea and commander of all allied forces in Korea. He retired from active duty in 2008, but he continues to serve as a consultant to the Department of Defense.

Bell is a lifetime member of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, has a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and holds several honorary doctorates.

Through 32 moves in 39 years, his wife, Katie, has been by his side, a reminder that it is the entire family who serves.

From Germany and the Balkans to Iraq and Afghanistan and Korea, Bell has seen the threats change from the Cold War and communism to radical terrorism at home and abroad and, most recently, an internal change in American culture.

“We need to re-establish the patriotic values that were established by our Founding Fathers and in our Declaration of Independence. These are not trite statements on some old piece of paper. They are a manifesto for human beings to live their lives in peace and freedom,” says Bell. “And, yes, when it is necessary and appropriate, we must be prepared to use force to address threats.”