MANCHESTER, Mo. ( - Along a busy stretch of Manchester Road near Highway 141, hangs 24 banners, each telling the story of a hometown hero.

“It was kind of fun putting it together, to see them on the street, we’ve had so many compliments,” said Kay Bell, a member of the Manchester Veterans Commission.

The idea for the banners came from the commission, specifically, Robert and Kay Bell. The Bells are a military family, Robert Sr. spent 24 years as an engineer in the Navy, their son Robert Jr. spent six years in the Navy, and their son-in-law is an Air Force veteran. Kay was very involved as a military wife.

“The captain asked me if I would become ombudsman and I agreed, I was the liaison between the ship and the families,” said Kay Bell. “The wives would come to me if they had a problem, I would take it to the captain or the chaplain, and the captain’s wife and I worked closely together.”

Robert Jr. was on the USS Iowa on April 19, 1989 when tragedy struck.

“The turret exploded, killing 47 shipmates,” said Robert Bell Jr. “It was chaos, smoke everywhere, I didn’t see much flames because it was all internal in the turret. I helped grab a couple of pieces of gear to carry to the site and I was assigned a firehose.”

The Bells wear their military service with pride, and now each family member has a banner along Manchester Road.

“When I see my son up there, my son-in-law, ok me too, it is proudness, at least we all know we have supported each other and military life is difficult, but you can get through it and accomplish something,” said Robert Bell Sr.

The Bells hope the banners live on well beyond them.

“I don’t want to just see it be veterans of the military, I would like to see our police force, I would like to see our firefighters, they have done so much also. I think they need to be honored as well,” said Kay Bell.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Hometown Hero banners will be taken down, to be replaced with banners for the holiday season. City officials tell News 4 the program will be back in 2022. Any Manchester resident interested in honoring a veteran can contact Manchester City Hall.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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