A 95-year-old WWII veteran received an inspiring spontaneous tribute from marathon runners who shook his hand and thanked him for his service.
San Jose, California, resident Joe Bell was standing in his front yard in uniform cheering on the thousands of runners who participated in the 8K race for charity which benefits the military scholarship programs of the Pat Tillman Foundation. Tillman was the former Arizona State star, NFL player for the Arizona Cardinals, and Army Ranger who died in action in Afghanistan. One by one, the runners peeled off to make a slight detour from the course and thanked Bell for his service to our country. “The touching, impromptu tribute was caught on video by Joe Bell’s neighbor, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. Since then, the video has been viewed and shared more than a million times.”
Bell served as a corporal in the US Army and trained paratroopers for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. According to Joe’s neighbor, Mercury News reporter Julia Prodis Sulek, who shot the video, “But as I recorded, I couldn’t help but get choked up to see this sweet old man, beloved by his neighbors, receiving a parade of tributes from strangers. It was especially poignant coming during a benefit for Tillman, a San Jose native who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Tillman had given up an NFL career to join the Army after 9/11.”
Nearly half of the runners reportedly came over and shook his hand or hugged the modest former solider.
Prodis Sulek added that Joe Bell seemed surprised and perhaps overwhelmed. “I never got recognition in my life,” he commented. “I was a jumper in the OSS. That’s all.”
Watch the spontaneous and heartwarming tribute to 92-year-old WWII vet Joe Bell from the San Jose marathon runners:
[top image credit: Shutterstock]