U.S.S. Little Rock
Commanding Officer Biography
Page last updated: 15 March, 2020
26 Aug 63 - 26 Sep 64

Belll Photo


Clarence Edwin Bell was born in Hamlet, North Carolina on July 25, 1916. He attended Maryland University :for one year be:fore his appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy in 1935. As a Midshipman he was football Manager (3 years) and Goatkeeper. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 1, 1939, he subsequently advanced to the rank of Vice Admiral, to date from July 16, 1969.

After graduation from the Naval Academy he served for three months on board USS YORKTOWN (CV-5), then for two years was assigned to the destroyer USS COLE (DD-155 ) . He attended Submarine School from September through December 1941, and had early World War II service as Communications Officer of USS BONITA (SS-165). Detached in October 1942, he joined USS TINOSA (SS-283) in November of that year, and in October 1943 became her Executive Officer. TINOSA was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation "For extraordinary  heroism in action during her Fourth, Fifth and Sixth War Patrols in the restricted waters of the Carolines and the Philippines." He was personally awarded the Silver Star Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Silver Star Medal.

In April 1944 he returned to the United States to assist in fitting out USS THORNBACK (SS-4l8), in which he served as Executive Officer until after the Japanese surrender in September 1945. After three months’ duty as Executive Officer of USS CARP (SS-338), he reported for his first tour of shore duty as Assistant Submarine Officer Placement Officer in the Bureau of Naval Personnel. He remained there until May 1948, then assumed command of USS DIODON (SS-349), which, under his command, won the Battle Efficiency Pennant for 1950. From July 1950 until January 1951 he was a student at the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia and for three years thereafter served on the Faculty and Staff of the Commander.

Reporting to the Submarine Tender USS ORION (AS-18), he served as Executive Officer from December 1953 until April 1955, during which period she won the Battle Efficiency Pennant for 1955. He commanded Submarine Division SIXTY-ONE for twelve months, and from May 1956 until July 1957 was Force Operations Officer on the staff of Commander Submarines, Atlantic Fleet. In August 1957 he became Administrative Aide to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and during the period August 1959 to July 1960 was a student at the National War College, Washington, D.C.

He commanded the Attack Transport USS CAMBRIA (APA-36) until August 1961, when he reported as Assistant for Plans and Program Review in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations. In August 1963 he assumed command of USS Little Rock CLG 4 and from October 1964 until February 1967 was Deputy Director for Inspection Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Administration), Washington, D.C. "For exceptionally meritorious service..." in that capacity, he was awarded the Legion o:f Merit.

He next served as Commander Amphibious Group FOUR and in February 1968 became Director of General Planning and Programming Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In April 1969 he assumed the duties of the Director, Navy Program planning, and on July 16, 1969 was officially appointed to that position in the rank of Vice Admiral. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for the period July 1969 to January 1971. He next reported as Commander Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. As such he had additional duty as Commander Amphibious Operations Support Command, U.S. Atlantic Fleet from July 1972 until that command was disestablished on February 15, 1973.

Vice Admiral Bell is married to the former Ellen Muller of Norfolk, Virginia, and has three daughters, Cynthia, Susan and Gail. He and Mrs. Bell claim Virginia Beach, VA  as home

Click here to see Navy Times article on RADM Bell.

- - - - - - -

Obituary of Vice Admiral C. Edwin Bell Jr.

10 Mar 08 - NORFOLK - Retired US. Navy Vice Adm. C. Edwin Bell Jr. died on the 5th of March 2008 at home, at Harbor's Edge in Norfolk. He was 91. Adm. Bell was born July 25, 1916, in Hamlet, N.C., the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Edwin Bell Sr. 

His father was a senior official with the Seaboard Railroad. As a child, Adm. Bell lived in Norfolk and Washington, D.C., graduating from Western High School in Washington. He attended the University of Maryland for one year and then was accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1939. Before U.S. entry into World War II, he served briefly in USS Yorktown and for two years in USS Cole. During World War II, he served in the Pacific in submarines USS Bonita, USS Tinosa and USS Thornback. He made seven war patrols against the Empire of Japan, serving as executive officer of USS Tinosa and USS Thornback, and was awarded two Silver Stars.

After World War II, Adm. Bell was executive officer of USS Carp and commanded USS Diodon, as well as Submarine Squadron Five and the attack transport USS Cambria. He attended the Armed Forces Staff College and the National War College and served in the Pentagon as well. His last ship command was of guided missile-cruiser USS Little Rock, flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, in 1963 and 1964.

He was selected for flag rank in 1964. As a rear admiral, he commanded Amphibious Group Four in Little Creek, Va.; as a vice admiral, he was director, Navy Program Planning, where he worked closely with then secretary of the Navy John Warner, and then-assistant secretary of the Navy Charles A. Bowsher. Adm. Bell's last Navy assignment was as commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, based in Little Creek.

He retired as a vice admiral in 1973. His decorations, in addition to the two Silver Stars from World War II, included the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

After he left the Navy, he took over the management of Norfolk's Convention and Cultural Center, including the 11,000-seat Scope Coliseum and 2,400-seat Chrysler Hall. He was impresario of the facilities until 1987, hosting such stars as Leslie Caron, Julia Roberts, Howard Keel, Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson as well as professional basketball and the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. After retiring from Norfolk Scope, he booked entertainment for Portsmouth's Willet Hall for four years.

A member of the Naval Academy golf team, he enjoyed golf for most of his life and could shoot his age well into his 80s. He was a longtime Washington Redskins fan who rarely missed a home game.

In recent years, Adm. Bell had lived in Virginia Beach and Naples, Fla At the time of his death, he resided at Harbor's Edge retirement home in Norfolk. He was a member of the Princess Anne Country Club.

He is survived by his wife, Rachael C. Bell of Norfolk; three daughters, Cynthia B. Doster of Annapolis, Md., Susan B. Moos of Naples, Fla., and Fairfax, Va., and Gail B. Calfee of Shaker Heights, Ohio; five grandchildren and four great- grandchildren; and four stepdaughters. His first wife, Ellen M. Bell, died in 1991. He was also preceded in death by two brothers, retired U.S. Army Col. Olin Lee Bell and U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. William John Bell, killed in action in the Korean War.

A funeral will be conducted at 10 a.m. Thursday at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Md.

The family will receive friends at the Norfolk Chapel of H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments Sunday from 3 until 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation, 5040 Virginia Beach Blvd., Suite 104A, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 or to the Midshipman Welfare Fund c/o U.S. Naval Academy.

Crew Remembrances & Anecdotes

(Add yours..... Contact Art Tilley)

Back to CLG 4 / CG 4 Commanding Officers

Take me to CL 92 Commanding Officers

Back to Home Page