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Air Force pilot began career as a Carroll cadet

Capt Mitchell speaking to group
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U.S. Air Force C-17 pilot Capt. Anthony Mitchell, a former Carroll Composite Squadron cadet, spoke to his former squadron about how being a CAP cadet helped him reach his career goals as a USAF pilot. (Photo credit: Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Blair Barao, CAP)

Former cadet commander of Carroll squadron serves as C-17 pilot

5/14/2014––Civil Air Patrol Maryland Wing’s Carroll Composite Squadron hosted Capt. Anthony B. Mitchell, a current U.S. Air Force pilot and former Carroll squadron member, as a guest speaker during a recent meeting in Westminster, Md.

“CAP’s attention to detail whether with uniform inspections or testing was a fantastic foundation for my U.S. Air Force career,” Capt. Mitchell emphasized as he spoke to his former Civil Air Patrol squadron. Throughout his presentation, Mitchell credited CAP cadet training with providing him numerous opportunities in leadership training, aerospace education and experience in emergency services.

Mitchell’s interest in aeronautics and the military was apparent when he joined the Carroll Composite Squadron at the age of 12 in 1994. His cadet achievements were numerous, including when he accepted the position of Carroll’s cadet commander in 2000. He also served as a squadron drill team member, attended several Tri-Wing Encampments and took advantage of cadet special activities including attending pilot solo school in 2000.

Mitchell earned an aerospace engineering degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, attending on a scholarship gained through the Air Force ROTC program. When asked how CAP was beneficial to his participation in ROTC, Mitchell responded, “CAP gives you a leg up. When I started ROTC some guys had never worn the Air Force uniform and knew little about military protocol, but I did because of my experience in CAP.” He expressed that CAP’s education program taught him good study habits and helped lay the ground work for his pursuit of education and career goals.

After serving in CAP and graduating from high school, Mitchell was scheduled to enlist in the Air Force on Sept. 11, 200l. However his enlistment was delayed because of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Mitchell and his class were afforded an extra day to reconsider joining the military in light of the potential escalation of the ‘War on Terrorism.’

Mitchell recounted that many of his class walked away and didn’t return; however, he remained steadfast in his commitment to serve. When asked why, Mitchell replied, “I’ve always wanted to serve. It’s been a dream. I had a sense of duty and 9/11 emboldened me even more.”

Mitchell’s pride in our nation’s military was evident as he stated, “The United States has the only Air Force in the world that can respond anywhere in the world within 24-hours with equipment and personnel.”

Mitchell stood tall as he told the cadets, “Of 64,000 officers in the Air Force, there are approximately 14,000 pilots, and I am one of the proud and the few.”

Before Mitchell pursued his ultimate goal of becoming a pilot, he served as a C-130 navigator. In this position, he was deployed four times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. He also flew several missions into Afghanistan. Mitchell flew 800 combat hours in C-130’s during these operations.

Subsequent to his navigator assignments, Mitchell pursued pilot training and attained his pilot’s wings. He currently serves in the 16th Air Lift Squadron as a C-17 pilot. When asked why he chose the C-17, Mitchell responded, “Even during peacetime the C-17 will always have a mission, whether it’s humanitarian or combat.”

Mitchell was also asked about his plans for the future and responded, “Right now I am learning the mission of a C-17. I love flying and being a leader; as an Air Force officer, you’re always learning, you never peak.”

Mitchell’s presentation included many highlights of his military service including his travel experiences and the camaraderie among service members. His military assignments have allowed him to travel the globe, interacting with many different cultures while experiencing his ultimate dream of being a pilot. Mitchell also expressed his appreciation for his comrades-in-arms and their shared commitment to serving in our nation’s armed forces.

Mitchell asked the cadets about their future plans, providing advice and ideas and encouraging the cadets to pursue their dreams. He closed his presentation with excellent advice: “Work hard to be the best, don’t take anything for granted, and always finish what you start. You can set yourself up or set yourself back.”

"Capt. Mitchell's wealth of knowledge and experience definitely helped me realize the extraordinary amount of teamwork required from so many different positions in order to complete a mission,” said Cadet 2nd Lt. Jonathan Yerger.

Mitchell’s presentation was well received and many expressed their appreciation not only for his visit, but also for his military service.

Cadet Master Sgt. Peter Cate added, “He [Mitchell] tied in his CAP experiences to his Air Force career, which widened my perspective and made [Capt. Mitchell’s] talk highly relatable and very interesting.”

Carroll Composite Squadron commander Lt. Col. Frank Jarosinski presented Mitchell with squadron and Maryland Wing patches and a squadron hat to commemorate his former service with the Carroll squadron. Jarosinski proudly stated, “CAP helps to make the leaders of tomorrow through viable programs and services. Every cadet has the opportunity to soar high and achieve his or her dreams. Carroll Composite Squadron is proud to claim Capt. Mitchell as one of its own and will continue to work with the youth of today with the hope that the desire to succeed and achieve is part of every cadet’s plan for their future.”

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 71 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 72 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.

Nearly 1,700 CAP members serve in Maryland. Last year wing members flew 13 search and rescue missions. The wing was credited with five finds and one life saved. Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland. Members flew 2,106 hours in all mission categories. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For more information contact the Maryland Wing at www.mdcap.org or follow the wing on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarylandWingCivilAirPatrol.

The Carroll Composite Squadron meets 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evenings at the Hilltop Assembly of God Church Hall at 30 North Cranberry Road in Westminster, Md. Prospective cadets, ages 12-18, and their parents are always welcome. Adults seeking mentoring opportunities are invited as well. For more information, email carrollcomposite@yahoo.com or visit www.carrollcap.org. You can also follow the squadron on Facebook at www.facebook.com/capcarrollcomposite.

Editor’s Note: This article was written with the assistance of Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Blair Barao of the Carroll Composite Squadron.