Saturday, January 06, 2007

Army Specialist Raymond N. Mitchell, III

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Raymond N. Mitchell, III, 21, of West Memphis, Ark.

Spc. Mitchell was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Jan 6 in Baghdad of wounds sustained during route security operations.

SPC Raymond N. 'Neal' Mitchell III

SPC Raymond N. "Neal" Mitchell III was born Dec. 30, 1985, in Smyrna. SPC Mitchell died Jan. 6, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds sustained during routine security operations. A short eulogy will be delivered at 1:30 p.m. Monday at Woodfin Chapel, Smyrna. Graveside services with full military honors will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Mapleview Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be from 3 to 6 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. until time of services on Monday.

SPC Mitchell was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Fort Drum, NY. He was a proud member of the Golden Dragons, Charlie Company which was deployed in Aug. 2006. SPC Mitchell's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, which were awarded posthumously, a National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

He is survived by his father, Raymond N. Mitchell Jr. and his sister Caroline Mitchell of Fairview, Tn.; mother Mrs. Carolyn Mitchell of Bellevue, Tn.; grandparents Raymond N. Mitchell Sr. and Mrs. Joyce Blair Mitchell of Winchester, Tn.; aunts Mrs. Angela Freeman, Mrs. Karen Coker, Mrs. Serena Lindley, Mrs. Judy Duncan and Mrs. Marilyn Newberry; uncle Dave Lindley; numerous cousins; and best friend and cousin, Jared Lindley. SPC Mitchell was preceded in death by his grandmother, Betty Jo Cargile Mitchell of Smyrna and his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Washington Parsley of Nashville.

Neal was a 2004 graduate of West Memphis Christian School and attended Arkansas State University before joining the Army. He left on Dec. 6, 2006, to return to Baghdad after a Thanksgiving leave

A soldier from Smyrna who was killed in Iraq will be laid to rest on Monday. Army Specialist, Raymond Mitchell, 21, died last Saturday in Baghdad. His body arrived Saturday morning at Smyrna Municipal Airport.

Mitchell was born in Smyrna and has many relatives in the area.

Mitchell was killed near Baghdad on January 6 when his patrol came under small arms fire. He deployed to Iraq last August as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.

Mitchell’s father said he was very proud of what his son was doing. He said, "He was very athletic he was looking forward when he was out of the service to returning to college playing baseball. He was a very gifted athlete. He was a constant companion of mine."

Mitchell enlisted in the Army in June 2005, after a year in college. He was home on leave during Thanksgiving and reassured his family he was doing what he wanted to do.

His family watched as soldiers from the Tennessee National Guard Honor Guard Program made sure Mitchell was treated with all the respect he deserves.

Smyrna soldier laid to rest
— Alicia Pickett, 278-5109

SMYRNA — Friends and family members of the late Raymond Neal Mitchell III remembered the 21-year-old Smyrna native and soldier as friendly, fearless and a competitor.

Spc. Mitchell, who was killed Jan. 6 by ambush fire while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq, was buried Monday at Mapleview Cemetery in Smyrna with full military honors.

Mitchell was a specialist in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. He was killed a week after celebrating his 21st birthday.

"Neal gave great hugs," said Joyce Mitchell, his grandmother.

Born in Smyrna, Mitchell spent most of his childhood in Aurora, Colo., and in 2002 went to live with grandparents in West Memphis, Ark., during his junior year of high school. His grandparents, Raymond and Joyce Mitchell, are originally from Smyrna.

"Neal brought pride to my name because he did a job for the benefit of every person in this country and he laid down his life," said Raymond Mitchell Sr. about his grandson.

Childhood friend Chris House of Colorado said Mitchell's tenacity in military life started in the playground as they played laser tag.

"Neal was a little guy, but he was a giant. He was fearless because he was just a competitor, just strong and that's what makes him a giant on the inside," said House.

Sgt. Matthew Brennan attended Tuesday's funeral and said Mitchell was a rifleman and worked in the dismounted patrol, where he and others would walk the streets of Iraq and talk with local citizens.

"He (Mitchell) was very friendly toward the locals and he knew a lot about his equipment," Brennan recalled.

Two of Mitchell's teachers from West Memphis Christian School who attended Tuesday's funeral said he had a rocky academic start at the Arkansas school, but he turned around.

"Neal was having some academic difficulties, but never gave up," said Lynnette Bankstone, who tutored Mitchell in Algebra II when he first moved to Arkansas.

Matt Daigle, who was one of his classmates at West Memphis Christian, said Mitchell kept to himself when he first arrived in Arkansas but later broke out of his shell.

"Neal was not selfish with his life," said Daigle.

Jon Jackson, another West Memphis Christian classmate, said Mitchell had a great sound system in his old Cadillac.

"We had a lot in common (because) we both liked to drive fast," said Jackson.

Raymond Mitchell Jr., the soldier's father, said his son lived fearlessly.

"He was planning on coming back (and going) back to college to play baseball," said Raymond Mitchell Jr.

Raymond Mitchell Jr. said the last time he saw his son was when he drove him to the airport on Dec. 6 after a two-week furlough for Thanksgiving and assured his father that he would be OK.

"Neal was not afraid because in battle you are full of adrenaline and you have to know what to do," he said.

Members of Rolling Thunder, a group of motorcyclists who support veterans, troops and POWs, also paid their respects at Mitchell's funeral.

"We are riding in honor of the fallen," said Gary Covington, who served in the 82nd Airborne, and a member of the organization.

According to Rolling Thunder president Bob Ousley, the organization has five chapters in Tennessee, including one based in Smyrna.

"It is cold and wet and our bikes are dirty, but we would do this every day of the week," said Ousley, who along with about a dozen riders followed the funeral procession to the graveside to salute Mitchell.

Army Specialist Raymond N. Mitchell, III was killed in action on 01/06/07.


Ray Mitchell said...

Neal, I miss you more each day. I still see your face in your baby pictures and my dreams. I wish there was some way we could trade places. ilove you son.

Ray Mitchell said...

Neal, I miss you more every day. I wish there was some way we could trade places so you could experience more than 21 years. i love you son.