James Fred Mitchell

Published 7:42 am Monday, June 20, 2005

By Staff
James Fred Mitchell, 86, of Brewton, died Saturday, June 18, 2005.
He was born Dec. 15, 1918 in Decatur County, Tenn., to the late Jesse Robert and Sallie Grimsley Mitchell. He was educated in the public schools of his community and attended the Wabash Institute in Vincennes, Ind., and studied engineering at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn., before moving to Brewton in the late 1930s. On April 20, 1942, he married Brewton native Sybil Frances Wiggins, daughter of John Benjamin Wiggins and Thelma Mae Jernigan.
Mitchell entered the U.S. Army on Oct. 11, 1941, prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and served his country for three decades, rising to the rank of colonel. He was a veteran of three wars, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. His duty stations included England, France, Germany, India, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sicily, Korea, Vietnam, Israel, Nationalist China, Thailand and Japan. Col. Mitchell was awarded numerous military medals including the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Double Bronze Oak Leaf, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Knot, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five battle stars, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Korea Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two battle stars, Army Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Overseas Service Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal with Palm, Vietnam Training Service Honor Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Expert Marksman Badge with Carbine, Pistol and Rifle Bars.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth J. Quinlan, when presenting Col. Mitchell with the Air Medal, called him an American hero, stating, "It truly is an honor to be the one to recognize Mr. Mitchell. He is a great soldier, a great father, a great husband and a model citizen."
Col. Mitchell was past chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and secretary of the USS Alabama Battleship Commission, an organization he served for eight years. He was appointed by two Alabama governors to terms on the State of Alabama Veterans Affairs Board. He was elected by the military veterans of his state to serve as the Alabama Department Commander of the American Legion. He served on the National American Legion Magazine Commission, Escambia County (Ala.) Veterans War Memorial Committee, and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Additionally, he is past committeeman for the Boy Scouts of America, past president of the Brewton Rotary Club, past national committeeman for the American Red Cross, past chairman of the East Escambia County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and past vice co-chairman of the American Red Cross for the State of Alabama. In 1980 he was named Man of the Year by the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce.
He was first licensed by the Department of Commerce, Civil Aeronautics Administration in 1948 to pilot single engine aircraft. He was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Brewton where he has served on the board of deacons. He was a long-time supporter of Auburn University both in academics and athletics.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Sybil Frances Mitchell of Brewton; four children, James Fred Mitchell, Jr. (Anne) of Foley, Alfred Henry "Buddy" Mitchell (Dawn) of Montgomery, R. Douglas Mitchell of Brewton, and Tanya Mitchell of Fayetteville, Ark. He is survived by six grandsons, James Fred Mitchell III (Joy) of Daphne; Douglas Bolton Mitchell (Holly) of Auburn; Jesse Benjamin Mitchell (Amanda) of Durham, N.C.; Alfred Henry Mitchell, Jr. of Auburn; Jason Green Mitchell (Lisa) of Montgomery; and Justin Mitchell Carte of Redwood City, Calif. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren, Constance Cary Mitchell, Olivia Brantley Mitchell, Thomas Jason Mitchell and John Patrick Mitchell. Also surviving is his brother, Henry Mitchell, of Scotts Hill, Tenn.
A grandson, Cary Thomas Mitchell of Auburn, preceded him in death.
The family will receive friends on Monday, June 20, 2005, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Brewton. A service of celebration and remembrance of his life will be at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2005, at the church with the Rev. Jack Fitts officiating. Internment with full military honors will follow at Union Cemetery in Brewton. Members of the Baraca Sunday School Class will be honorary pallbearers.
The family can be contacted at P.O. Box 654, Brewton, AL 36427. Floral contributions will be accepted or memorials made to the charity of choice.
Williams Memorial Chapel Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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