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

Airman changes lanes in life

Courtesy photo Airman 1st Class Kelton Rall Those who have had a hard life often say it is hard to overcome the past. “It’s almost like climbing out of a dark hole – one mistake and you fall deeper into the abyss,” said...
 
 

People First – October 31, 2014

AF adjusts enlisted retention results Air Force officials announced an adjustment to the Junior Enlisted Retention Board which convened in June at the Air Force Personnel Center. Fifty Airmen who were not selected for retention during the FY14 force management ERB were offered the opportunity to remain on active-duty following identification of an issue in the...
 
 

Air Force News – October 31, 2014

Chile After flying more than 50 sorties, participating in two community relations events, entertaining multiple media events and being visited by the president of Chile, U.S. Airmen partaking in Chile’s SALITRE 2014 exercise are returning home. The purpose was to conduct military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals. Germany As service members travel to...
 

 

Air Force News – October 24, 2014

Hawaii Survival, evasion, resistance and escape instructors at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam conduct combat survival training once a month, 12 months a year, to ensure aircrew members are qualified and better prepared for combat survival. Greenland A biannual resupply mission to sustain the inhabitants of CFS Alert and Eureka Research Station, Nunavut, Canada, was completed...
 
 

People First – October 24, 2014

Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story. Air Force...
 
 

Air Force News – October 17, 2014

Germany Airmen with the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base loaded a C-130J Super Hercules with needed supplies Oct. 7 and launched their first mission to West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance. The team of Airmen flying with the aircraft made stops in Spain, Senegal and Liberia, an area heavily affected by...
 




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