MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (AP) - The photos Billy and Joyce Mitchell displayed at their kitchen table showed many aspects of their son.
In one, he wore a Muscle Shoals High School football uniform. Another showed him standing in front of the mammoth C-130 military transport plane he piloted. Still another was of him and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Many were of him and his family.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Mitchell had a long and distinguished career as a pilot, but to his parents, he was their beloved son, and they mourn him daily.
“He wasn’t just my little boy, he was my hero,” Joyce Mitchell said.
Mitchell died on Sept. 5 after a pedestrian-vehicle accident in Shalimar, Florida. Muscle Shoals City Clerk Ricky Williams is Mitchell’s father-in-law.
“He was an incredible person,” Williams said. “We miss him daily.”
The classmates at Williams’ high school, where he represented them as class president for three years, agree. They have created the Mike Mitchell Memorial Scholarship in honor of their fellow 1991 graduate.
An April 11 auction will serve as a fundraiser for the scholarship. Organizers are asking for items or funds to contribute to the scholarship fund.
There also will be an Aug. 22 golf tournament at Cypress Lakes Country Club to raise money for the scholarship.
Joyce Williams said her son, who was 41 when he died, touched countless lives. She has heard stories from those he served with about his leadership, “contagious smile,” tremendous sense of humor and positive outlook.
He was honored with a 21-gun salute at his burial. Another tribute came in the form of two people who served as pallbearers. Mitchell had taken them under his wing after their fathers died, and left such an impression that they served as pallbearers at the funeral.
“That’s just the type of person he was,” Joyce Mitchell said. “He made everyone feel important.”
Friends said Mike Mitchell’s attitude is best personified in a quotation from him that was published in a tribute for his funeral: “Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, blah, blah, blah. We’re all Americans. We should have each other’s backs. We can tear each other apart, or we can build each other up. That’s really our only two choices.”
The April 11 event at the Listerhill Credit Union Auditorium includes a silent auction and speaker Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Items can be dropped off at the Muscle Shoals city clerk’s office at City Hall or Tim Mylam’s law office at 111 N. Main St. in Tuscumbia.
Donations also can be made at CB&S Bank, Listerhill Credit Union, First Metro Bank, First Southern Bank and Bank Independent.
Checks can be mailed to the Muscle Shoals Education Foundation/Mike Mitchell, 3200 Wilson Dam Road, Muscle Shoals, AL 35661.
“We also ask for businesses and organizations to make yearly donations toward the scholarship,” Joyce Mitchell said.
Information from: TimesDaily, https://www.timesdaily.com/
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