This is one part of the plant manager's job Chuck Milner dreads more than anything. The job of telling hundreds of Russell Corporation employees one of their own is gone.
"Dale Bell was killed in hostile action yesterday in Iraq," says Milner as he told workers who met at the flag pole in front of the company Tuesday afternoon.
Sgt. Dale Bell worked in the shipping area at the Russell distribution plant in Montgomery. He was what they called the lead shipper.
"He would make sure the customers got what they ordered," says Milner.
Only 32 years old, a rising star among his peers at the plant and highly promotable. He was a 9 year veteran at Russell and a 14 year guardsman with the Alabama Army National Guard.
"If I had 400 employees like Bell, I wouldn't lose any sleep," Milner says.
Bell died in a suicide car bomb attack in Baghdad. He was training Iraqi police officers.
"Guys like him knew what they were signing up for, but we always felt he would come home," Milner says.
This is the second time in less than a year Chuck Milner has had to deliver sad news to the plant. Back in February, another company employee died in a traffic accident.
"There are no words I can say that'll comfort us at this time. We'll get through this together," Milner says under a dreary sky that matched the mood at the company.
Another day on the job for Milner turned out to be anything but ordinary, and apparently others felt the same way. 3 of Bell's closest friends at the plant were so shaken they went home for the day.
Sgt. Dale Bell was the first Alabama guardsman to die in hostile fire since the war started. Bell leaves behind a son around 11 years old, and his parents who live in Tuskegee.