Born in Birmingham, Alabama, raised in both Alabama and North Carolina, and a star high school and collegiate athlete, Capt. Thomas R. Mitchell, III, U.S. Navy, graduated from Auburn University in 1965 and was commissioned an Ensign via Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. While attending flight training in Pensacola, Florida, he met his future wife, Susan.
Awarded the coveted gold wings of a Naval Aviator in early 1967, Ensign Mitchell immediately began training in the A-4 Skyhawk. Subsequently reporting to Attack Squadron 36, nicknamed the Roadrunners, he completed deployments to Vietnam and the Mediterranean.
Following a tour as flight instructor in Pensacola, Lt. Mitchell deployed to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean again before transitioning to A-7 Corsair aircraft in 1973. From October 1975 to September 1985, he completed over nine deployments to the Mediterranean, north and south Atlantic, and Caribbean aboard several historic carriers. During this time, he completed two command tours collecting numerous squadron awards; initiated actions critical to preserving the A-7 community; and rose to the rank of captain. In 1986, Capt. Mitchell joined the staff of Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific. His final assignment was Commanding Officer of Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, North Island. Over his career, he accumulated more than 5,000 flight hours and 1,083 arrested landings aboard 14 aircraft carriers. His personal awards included the Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, Air Medals, and Navy Commendation Medals with “V” for valor.
Retiring from the service in 1992 after 27 years of service, Mitchell and his family lived in Coronado and Memphis as he continued to fly, now with Federal Express, for 14 more years, accumulating another 4,000 flight hours. A tireless volunteer, Mitchell concurrently committed himself selflessly to a wide range of Coronado activities to include: the Coronado Historical Association; Rotary Club of Coronado, serving as president and recognized as Rotarian of the Year; docent at the Hotel del Coronado; Honor Flight Ambassador; and member at St. Paul’s Methodist Church. In his spare time, he is an ardent tennis player. A devoted family man, Mitchell and his wife have been married for more than 50 years, have two children and three grandchildren.