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Interview with History: America's Military After Nam

Updated: Nov 17, 2018

Today's article is provided by SFC Kenneth Bell, USA(Ret), focusing on his experiences as part of the forces that took part in Operation Just Cause in Panama.

During over 20 years of Active Duty I have taken part in many sessions of review in how the military has worked at staying head of problems that could arise during operations abroad.

During Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama we were involved with one of our Long Time Allies. Since the building of the Canal, the US Military has accepted into its ranks Enlistees that were Citizens of Panama. Our Troops have married and built families with Panamanian women, and throughout the years there this did not create a problem.

Then we enter into Operation Just Cause-- and the order went out to return military families to Continental United States and others were to be moved within the security of the Military Bases in Panama. We found ourselves with a need to consider the protection of any families who were living in the economy. This included families that are current and children of active duty US servicemen who were divorced or dependents that were eligible for military benefits.

When the word got out that we were pulling families in from the civilian communities for protection from possible action from the Panamanian Military, we found former spouses and grandparents wanting to bring children with valid ID Cards into the military bases. This was an unexpected activity that we had overlooked. It is amazing how world events can affect children--we had not planned for this. We had to look at all the factors that were involved and found we were limited on how we could handle the needs of these dependent children.

At the time we were limited on space to take them in and we found a new requirement for Command to consider on future operations.


Editor's NOTE: Ken Bell is a Service Officer with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) East Valley Chapter 8 in Mesa, AZ. he has been serving his fellow veterans for a quarter century, helping them get the benefits they deserve and the medical care they need. He is also an experienced Outreach Service Officer, able to make visits to home-bound veterans and those without means of transportation in order to provide essential services to them.

You can see Ken at DAV East Valley Chapter 8 on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Chapter is open M-F 9am-2pm,

655 N. Gilbert Rd.

Mesa, AZ 85203




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