Russell served in the United States Air Force from June of 1941 to June of 1963. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant after Bombardier Instructor School, advancing to Lieutenant Colonel. During his military career he spent time as a Bombardier, Radar Systems Operator, and qualified as a Master Navigator. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, an Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and an Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster. His time with the Army Air Force during World War II was spent in B-24s as the Group Bombardier,466th Bomb Group, 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force in Europe and the later, in Korea as a staff officer with an Air Force B-29 Bomb Group , flying missions from Japan to Korea as navigator and bombardier.