Ray Mitchell was born on February 9, 1921, in Searsboro, Iowa. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on June 25, 1942, and went on active duty to begin training on January 7, 1943. Mitchell was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Eagle Pass, Texas, on November 3, 1943, and then served as a replacement pilot at Dale Mabry Field, Florida, from November 1943 to April 1944. Lt Mitchell next attended P-51 Mustang training at Hillsborough, Florida, from April to June 1944, followed by service as a P-51 pilot with the 328th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group in England from July 1944 to May 1945. During this time he flew 69 combat missions and was credited with the destruction of 1 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before returning to the United States. Lt Mitchell served at Santa Ana Army Air Base, California, from May 1945 until he left active duty and joined the Air Force Reserve on September 5, 1945. Lt Col Mitchell served as an Installations Engineer with the 9692nd Air Reserve Squadron and the 3902nd Air Base Wing at Des Moines, Iowa, at Lincoln AFB, Nebraska, and at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, from September 1945 to March 1963, and then as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer at Des Moines from April 1963 until his retirement from the Air Force Reserve on July 1, 1966. After leaving active duty at the end of World War II, Ray worked as a civilian employee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for many years. Ray Mitchell died on October 31, 2016, and was buried at Sunset View Memorial Gardens in Woodstock, Virginia. He and his wife Helen were married from September 10, 1950, until her death on April 9, 2013.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while serving as Pilot of a P-51 airplane on bomber escort and strafing missions over Germany and German occupied countries, from 12 August 1944 to 7 April 1945. During attacks on enemy ground targets Lieutenant Mitchell successfully damaged and destroyed considerable enemy equipment and installations. The determination evinced by this officer in the performance of bomber escort missions was materially responsible for the disruption of enemy attacks against the bomber formations. The exemplary tactical skill displayed by Lieutenant Mitchell accounted for the destruction of one hostile aircraft in individual combat. The courage, coolness and devotion to duty displayed by this officer on all these occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.