By Staff Sgt. Angela Mckinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs
PATROL BASE GATOR SWAMP, Iraq — In the military there are Soldiers that touch people’s hearts and leave a their mark in the lives of many others – Neil Mitchell III was one of those Soldiers.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) gathered to mourn the loss of a fallen comrade during a memorial ceremony at Patrol Base Gator Swamp, Iraq Jan. 13.
Mitchell, a native Winchester, Tenn., who served as a gunner with 2-14, was killed by enemy small arms fire while pulling route security around the PB Gator Swamp area Jan. 6, just two weeks after returning from leave and one week after celebrating his 21st birthday.
Mitchell was remembered as more than a Soldier. He was a friend, a practical joker and one who loved computer games.
“Mitchell was very outgoing and spent most of his time playing computer games,” said Spc. Joseph Carmosino, a 2-14 gunner and native of Syracuse, N.Y. “He was very generous and would help anyone with rides, money … anything. You could not help but to like Mitchell,” Carmosino said. “He never got mad at people and always did stuff for others.”
Carmosino, who considered Mitchell one of his best friends, reminisced of Mitchell’s love for computer games.
“One night I crawled through Mitchell’s ceiling to see if I could use his car … Mitchell would not answer the door because he was playing a computer game,” he said. “Instead of me borrowing his car, Mitchell said he would go with me after he finished his game. I waited for six hours for him to finish that game.”
During the ceremony Mitchell’s commander spoke highly of the Soldier.
“He was one of those Soldiers that could shun any burden with a smile,” said Capt. Brendan Hobbs, Company C. commander, 2-14 and native of Tampa, Fla., as he tried to fight back tears. “He always had a smile even on the worst of days.”
Mitchell was also remembered for his big, white Cadillac – a car without any doors and referred to as the platoon car.
“One morning before first formation I noticed a big, white car that was parked with one tire on the curb at an odd angle,” said Staff Sgt. Darren Lemorta, a platoon sergeant with 2-14 and native of Schenectady, N.Y. “I wanted to see whose car it was so I tried to open the doors, but they did not work. After leaning into the window I found paperwork from so many different Soldiers in the platoon that I had no idea who the car belonged to.”
Lemorta said Mitchell’s car was so big that it was banned from the first few rows of the parking lot. The car was only allowed to be parked in the back of the parking lot.
Before the ceremony ended the chaplain left the Soldiers with some encouraging words.
“There is no way to hide the fact that losing someone you trained with, hung around with and fought with hurts,” said Ch.(Capt.) Kent Coffee, the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) chaplain and native of Fort Drum, N.Y. “It is probably one of the hardest things anyone has to do, but in order to truly honor that friend’s sacrifice requires us all to dig deep and rely on our Army family and drawing strength from God.”
Although Mitchell served as a gunner with 2-14 he had also served in multiple duty positions to include rifleman, Javelin gunner and was selected above his peers as the platoon radio transmitter operator, a job that requires a great deal of responsibility and common sense.
Mitchell’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Mitchell is survived by his father, Raymond Mitchell, Sr., and his grandmother Joyce, both of whom reside in Tennessee.
Friday, January 26, 2007
By Staff Sgt. Angela Mckinzie