Air Force

November 8, 2013

Pilot realizes childhood dream, still serves

Tags:
Airman 1st Class DEVANTE WILLIAMS
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Retired Lt. Col. James “Rusty” Mitchell poses with his A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1979 at the Royal Air Force Bentwaters, England. Mitchell’s military flying career took him around the world to places like South Korea, Colorado, and more, flying the A-10, then the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

As a child he always dreamed of being a pilot. Little did he know his dream would one day become a reality.

Retired Lt. Col. Rusty Mitchell, 56th Fighter Wing Community Initiatives Team director, served 22 years in the Air Force and retired not only as a pilot, but the first commander of the 21st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base.

During his career Mitchell traveled around the world to places like England, South Korea, Colorado and more, flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II, then the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Toward the end of his career, Mitchell was selected for promotion to colonel but due to family priorities chose to decline and retired in 1998.

“The decision to retire was hard, especially with having a line number for colonel but at the time my kids were transitioning to high school, my wife Pat had a job she loved as a registered nurse and the New Parents Support Program director here at Luke, and we wanted to ensure we stayed in the Phoenix area,” he said.

After retirement, Mitchell found a job working for United Airlines as a commercial pilot and while he continued to fulfill his dream of being a pilot, he still missed the military way of life.

“It was a definite difference when I retired from the Air Force and became a civilian,” Mitchell said. “I missed the sense of purpose and the quality of individuals I worked with. You can’t get that on the outside.”

Five years after his retirement Mitchell received a surprising call from then Brig. Gen. Philip Breedlove. Due to the rapid growth of the communities surrounding Luke, Breedlove, the 56th Fighter Wing commander at the time, wanted to form a Community Initiatives Team, which he asked Mitchell to lead.

“He asked me to come back and run his new team,” Mitchell said. “I felt like I was coming home to family. I was back working with Airmen on a full-time basis, which is what I missed the most.”
Although Mitchell currently has a full-time position at Luke, he continues to fly commercial aircraft part time.

“I decided to keep flying because that has been my passion since childhood,” he said. “I work a flexible 40-hour week schedule at Luke while also flying 75 to 80 hours a month with United. My position at Luke is an incredibly purposeful job. There’s great significance and a sense of accomplishment that comes with acting as a liaison between the local community and Luke Air Force Base. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Today, Mitchell continues to serve his country with the same passion and exuberance as when he first joined.

“I loved every day of my active-duty career as well as the gift of once again being associated with the professionals of today’s Air Force,” Mitchell said. “The young men and women of today’s Air Force truly make me proud.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

My personal leadership philosophy

My personal leadership philosophy can be summed up in just a few words — people first, mission always. Some may mistake the phrase “people first, mission always” as a dictum to coddle unit personnel through adversity, but actually, my focus is on preparing them to overcome adversity. The mission will always press on, but without...
 
 

Work, family balance success marker

“Being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” — Zig Ziglar In our careers, we frequently hear about the importance of having balance in our life and job. Some common...
 
 
Staff Sgt. 
TIMOTHY BOYER

Luke plays role in saving species

Staff Sgt.TIMOTHY BOYER A team of wildlife specialists prepare a Sonoran pronghorn for release into the wild at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Ajo. Sixty-nine pronghorn were captured this year. Of those, more tha...
 

 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Road closure Litchfield Road at Northern Parkway is closed daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sunday to paint the bridge overpass, weather permitting. Northern Parkway will remain open. Reems Road and Dysart Road are alternate routes. For more information, call MCDOT at 480-350-9288. MLK luncheon There will be a Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon...
 
 
Senior Airman 
JAMES HENSLEY

MWD Roy — partner, friend passes

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY Staff Sgt. Scott Emmick, 56th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler, and Roy, 56th SFS MWD, play Dec. 14, 2012, at the at Luke Air Force Base kennels. The MWD and handler team plays to...
 
 

46 graduate ALS in class 15-1

The 56th Fighter Wing Airman Leadership School graduated 45 senior airmen and one staff sergeant Dec. 11 from class 15-1. The graduates are senior airmen unless otherwise noted. John L. Levitow award: Nathaniel Gladney, 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Distinguished graduates: Matthew Goodspeed, 56th Operations Support Squadron; Russell Hires, 56th Medical Support Squadron; James Gilmore, 56t...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin