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.


 
 

 

Fighting Falcons arrive at Holloman

Courtesy photo Six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 308th Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base arrive in formation June 16 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The 308th FS has inactivated and the soon to be activated 314th FS assumes the 308th FS mission of training F-16 pilots as a 56th Fighter Wing...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Hecker assumes command of 19th Air Force

Courtesy photo Gen. Robin Rand, Air Education and Training Command commander, presents the unit guidon to Maj. Gen. James Hecker during the 19th Air Force assumption of command ceremony June 23 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolp...
 
 

Air Force News – June 26, 2015

Alaska Firefighters from the 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson recently assisted with the Division of Forestry’s efforts in containing the Sockeye wildfire near Willow. The fire is estimated to cover more than 7,000 acres of land.   Virginia The 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games opened June 19 with about 250 athletes...
 

 

People First – June 26, 2015

EPME enrollment notifications begin The Air Force Personnel Center recently initiated a phased approach to notify approximately 83,000 Airmen of the requirement to enroll in the applicable enlisted professional military education distance learning course. AFPC will notify 20,000 Airmen at the beginning of each month until all members have been notified. In July 2014, the Air...
 
 

Air Force News – June 19, 2015

Poland In support of Baltic Operations 2015 June 5 through 20, a team of Airmen from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron deployed to Powidz Air Base, maintained communication requirements for the Air Force at the installation. Baltops is a multinational maritime exercise designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability. Southwest Asia Since Aug. 8, coalition airpower...
 
 

People First – June 19, 2015

Selected MSgt evals close out Sept. 30 Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve master sergeant and master sergeant-select enlisted performance reports will now close out annually on Sept. 30. In addition, as of June 3, , master sergeants and selects will no longer receive change-of-reporting-official EPRs. Enlisted Evaluation System and Weighted...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>