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Dennis Bell (December 28, 1866 - September 25, 1953) was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America's highest military decoration-the Medal of Honor-for his actions in the Spanish-American War.
Biography. Bell was born December 28, 1866 and joined the Army from his birth city, Washington, D.C.. By June 30, 1898 he was serving as a Private in Troop H of the 10th Cavalry Regiment. On that day, American forces aboard the USS Florida near Tayacoba, Cuba, dispatched a small landing party to provide reconnaissance on Spanish outposts in the area. The party was discovered by Spanish scouts and came under heavy fire; their boats were sunk by enemy cannon fire, leaving them stranded on shore.
The men aboard the Florida launched several rescue attempts; the first four were forced to retreat under heavy fire. The fifth attempt, manned by Bell and three other Privates of the 10th Cavalry (Fitz Lee, William H. Thompkins, and George H. Wanton), launched at night and successfully found and rescued the surviving members of the landing party. One year later, on June 23, 1899, all four rescuers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in what had come to be known as the Battle of Tayacoba.
Dennis Bell reached the rank of Corporal before leaving the Army. He died at age 86 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.
Medal of Honor citation. Private Bell's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.
Spanish-American War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He served during the War with Spain in the United States Army as a Private in Troop H, 10th United States Cavalry. He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery at Tayabacoa, Cuba, on June 30, 1898. His citation reads "Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated". His Medal was awarded on June 23, 1899. He was one of five soldiers from the 10th US Cavalry, an all-African American regiment, to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Spanish-American War (the others being Sergeant Major Edward L. Baker Jr., Private Fitz Lee, Private William H. Thompkins, and Private George H. Wanton).