Bell, Jefferson honored by Air Force on national scale


photo or infographic by staff photo

HONOR. Before the Veteran Day concert in 2019, SMSgt Christopher Bell instructs cadets. Bell was named Region 3 Aerospace Science Instructor.

COMMUNITY PRIDE. Supporting his students at the Christmas Parade, Col. Vincent Jefferson shows the community the program he works so hard to lead and grow. The Willis ISD AFJROTC program was established in 2002. They were named a Distinguished Unit every school year from 2013-2014 through 2019-2020 with special recognition as a Distinguished Unit with Merit for SY 2013-14 and SY 2019-2020. (photo or infographic by Charnell Haywood)

The mission of Air Force Junior ROTC is to “develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.” The program is designed to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, instill personal responsibility, character and self-discipline, achieved through classroom education in air and space fundamentals, as well as hands on learning opportunities.

On campus, there are two Aerospace Science Instructors teaching cadets. Both were named 2019-2020 AFJROTC Outstanding Instructors by the Department of the Air Force Air University. 

“Those recognized represent the ‘Best of the Best’ we have in AFJROTC,” Director of AFJROTC Col. Stephen T. Sanders said in a press release. “Through this recognition, we honor their exemplary contributions and impact on their cadets, school, and community. I extend my deepest appreciation to all winners for their dedication, hard work, and personal investment they put into our AFJROTC program and into our cadets. They represent the highest examples of the Air Force Core Values which are crucial to the success of the AFJROTC mission. Well done to all!”

In addition to this honor of outstanding instructor, SMSgt Christopher Bell was named the AFJROTC Region 3 Aerospace Science Instructor of the Year. 

“SMSgt Bell also beat out 32 other Region 3 Aerospace Science Instructors to earn the Regional-Level award,” Jefferson said. “That means he is the top AFJROTC Instructor for all of Texas and Louisiana for 2019-2020. He was #1 of 150+ instructors last year.”

 The competition is tough for these accolades. Having two instructors who were recognized is not common.

“There are a total of 129 AFJROTC programs in our region,” Jefferson said. “It is the largest AFJROTC region That’s approx. 150 Aerospace Science Instructors (ASIs) in our regions with only 32 winning the Outstanding Instructor Award.”

Bell has been teaching high school for four years now, but doing basic military teaching (BMT) for 23 years.

“I’m the number one ASI for region 3 in AFJROTC,” Sgt. Christopher Bell said. “I will try to improve our program here. They were excited for me and Willis High School.”

Class of 2021 office secretary Jennifer Bell is how proud of her husband’s success, and she shares the passions that he expresses. 

“I am always so proud when my husband wins an award or is recognized for his hard work,” Jennifer Bell said. “His passion has always been training and teaching today’s youth to empower them with confidence, knowledge, a sense of humor and the value of community.”

Bell showed gratitude to his senior instructor and his overall team for achieving the award given.

“It is because of the cadets and Col. Jefferson that  I was able to do the things we needed to win this award,” Sgt. Bell said “All awards won take a team not an individual.”

Bell’s daughter, Olivia is a cadet and a leader in the program. She is more than happy for her dad’s accomplishments. 

“Personally I was excited for my dad; he is not your average JROTC instructor,” senior Olivia Bell said. “He really tries to engage the cadets in his lesson which makes us step out of our comfort zone.”

Olivia Bell continues to show how her dad goes beyond for all of his cadets. 

“My dad goes the extra mile for all of his cadets,” she said. “He may be harsh at times, but to me he is one of the most caring and entertaining instructors and I have had the pleasure of being his classroom with.”

The award just certified what the Bell family has known all along. 

“I try to always tell and show him how proud I am of all that he has achieved,” Jennifer Bell said. “He works so hard for his family and community that to simply say ‘thank you’ does not seem eloquent enough. I am blessed to be his wife and friend, and I look forward to many more opportunities to celebrate him and his dedication.” 

As winner of the award, Bell now has a new medal to pin on his uniform.

“Bottom line:  SMSgt Bell’s award was a much bigger deal,” Jefferson said. “As a result, he now wears the Gold instructor badge.”