Combat on Canvas

Art and artifacts from the Marine front lines, now on display in Washington.


The Bell

(Eric Long, NASM)

“This bell is a very simple token of the dedication and impact that Marine aviation has had in Iraq,” says curator Ben Kristy. The bell came from an Iraqi airfield. The electrical system on the field was so spotty that if a call came in for a medical evacuation flight, you couldn’t depend on it. So the base needed to have some way of informing crews to launch immediately. This bell’s unique din could be heard all over the flightline. “When you heard that bell go off, it sent a shiver up everyone’s spine,” a Cobra pilot told Kristy. As squadrons deployed in and out of the airfield, the bell became part of the formal change-of-command ceremony. By the time the bell came home, it was associated with more than 9,000 medical evacuation flights.

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