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.


 
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Chrach saves lives, earns recognition

Courtesy Photo Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Chrach, 56th SFS MWD, pose for a photo in Afghanistan during their 2012 deployment. Chrach was recently awarded the 12th A...
 
 

Ahead of schedule …

Master Sgt. Thomas Hartley, right, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group depot structural maintenance chief and Staff Sgt. Joseph Kern, 309th AMG DSM craftsman, analyze blueprints to repair cracked canopy seal longerons in Hangar 914 Dec. 11 at Luke Air Force Base. Hartley is team leader for the seven-man depot team sent from Hill Air Force Base,...
 
 

Heating up the asphalt …

The heat and exhaust of a launching F-16 Fighting Falcon creates a photo opportunity Jan. 8 on the runway at Luke Air Force Base. Luke’s mission is to train the world’s greatest F-16 fighter pilots while deploying mission-ready warfighters.
 

 

Divorce comes with heavy baggage

Divorce, though a difficult chapter in many lives, happens. Divorce comes with both financial and emotional burdens for all involved. Once the decision is made, knowing what will come next can be helpful and comforting. In order to file for divorce in Arizona, one of the parties must reside in Arizona for 90 days. In...
 
 
6_150113-F-VY794-166

Test … testing … 1-2-3

Airman 1st Class Brian Dirgo, 56th CMS avionics team member, demonstrates soldering procedures on an engine diagnostic unit.
 
 
Courtesy photo

White Sands ‘Vipers’ – F-16 training thrives at Holloman

Courtesy photo Lt. Col. Jerod Rick, 54th Fighter Group chief of standardization and evaluation, and 1st Lt. Taylor Roberts, 311th Fighter Squadron basic course student, prepare to taxi Nov. 13, 2014, in an F-16 Fighting Falcon ...
 




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