With Honors: Boyle veteran recognized for bravery during World War II
Robert H. Mitchell holds an Army certificate given to him with a Bronze Star medal he earned for bravery during World War II. (Photo by Brenda Edwards / January 17, 2013)
Mitchell was a member of Co. I, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Division. from Dec. 1, 1944, to Nov. 18, 1946, during World War II.
“I had never been anywhere until I left for Tyler, Texas, and Camp Farrin for basic training,” said Mitchell. “When I signed up in Louisville, I was squad leader. I was a sergeant when I was discharged. I was gone two years and a month before I came home.”
He earned his first medal while a private during a battle soon after he arrived in the Philippines. His unit was called to help out the 25th Division Infantry.” He was recognized for meritorious achievement in ground operation against the enemy during the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Mitchell earned the The Bronze Star Medal, the fourth highest for bravery, during the Battle of Balete Pass. He also earned the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, Victory Ribbon, Conduct Medal and Philippine Liberation Medal.
Mitchell said his unit had been at Balete Pass (also known as the Dalton Pass) near Luzon about two weeks when Gen. James Dalton was killed by a sniper while inspecting the troops.
He was in the mountains of the Philippines then traveled via ship to Japan and was sitting in the harbor when the Japanese surrendered. After the war ended, Mitchell spent a year in Japan with the occupational forces. When he arrived in Tokyo, he got a look at the destruction caused to the city during an U.S. air raid. He took a train ride to view other sites. He brought home a Japanese flag with names of soldiers, and a white silk scarf imprinted with the Stars & Stripes newspaper, dated Sept. 2, 1945, with an article of the surrender by the Japanese.
Two years ago, Mitchell was among several Kentuckians who visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was greeted by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also toured other war memorials in the area.
Mitchell also received his high school diploma about 10 years ago during a ceremony at Perryville Elementary School. It was after he retired from Corning Glass Works where he worked for 33 years.
Born Aug. 19, 1926, in Boyle County, Mitchell has lived all his adult life on a four-acre tract, part of the 5,000 acres of land in the Mitchellsburg-Parksville area where his ancestor J.P. Mitchell settled in the early 1800s. He is the 10th generation of the early Mitchells.
He is the only living child of Robert J. Mitchell, (1876-1972), and Zora Purdom Mitchell.
After he returned home from the military, he married Betty Westerfield. She died Sept. 2, 2010. Their children are Robert Jr. and Steve, both of Mitchellsburg; Deb Dowell of Ottenheim and Clay, who died at age 16.