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Fleet Master Chief (Surface Warfare) James R. Mitchell, USN (Retired)

Fleet Master Chief Mitchell was born 9 October 1942 in Hobbs and raised in Lovington and Carlsbad, New Mexico. He received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 1965 and taught junior high school for three years in Artesia, New Mexico. In 1968, after receiving draft notification, he enlisted in the Navy and attended boot camp at Recruit Training Center, San Diego CA. Following a tour with Destroyer Flotilla FIVE, homeported in Pearl Harbor he was assigned in 1970 to USS SARATOGA (CV 60) homeported in Subic Bay, Philippines as a Yeoman 2nd Class. In 1974, after a one-year break in service, he returned to the Navy with duty aboard USS CANON (PG 90) homeported in Guam. In 1975 he was converted to the Intelligence Specialist (IS) rating and attended 'A' School in Denver, Colorado, where he was the honor graduate. Following advanced training as an imagery interpreter in Omaha, NE, he was assigned to OZ Division, USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63). He was advanced to Chief Petty Officer in 1979 while assigned to the Defense Attache Office, American Embassy Rome, Italy, where he served as an Italian language interpreter. During his 1981- 84 assignment with Commander Task Group 168.3 homeported in Naples, Italy, he was the first forward deployed Intelligence Specialist assigned to cruisers and destroyers deployed to the Mediterranean, Black, Red and Baltic Seas. The success of this program led to the permanent assignment of Intelligence Specialists to all cruisers and destroyers today. During this tour he earned his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist designation, was advanced to senior chief petty officer and served as the Command Senior Chief. In 1984, while assigned to the Naval Intelligence Command Headquarters, Suitland, MD, he was advanced to Master Chief Intelligence Specialist. In 1986 he was reassigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel as the Intelligence Specialist Detailer and Intelligence Specialist Technical Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations. Following his tour as detailer, ISCM (SW) Mitchell returned to the fleet in 1990 as the Command Master Chief of the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship, USS BELKNAP (CG 26), homeported in Gaeta, Italy. In 1991 he was appointed Fleet Master Chief (F/MC) to Commander in Chief, U. S. Naval Forces Europe, Admiral Mike Boorda, and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Hagan. As F/MC he was the senior enlisted leader for more than 20,000 Sailors assigned or deployed in Europe. He also sat on the Chief of Naval Operation's Senior Enlisted Advisory Panel in Washington, D.C., representing all enlisted Sailors in the U. S. Navy. In January 1995, Fleet Master Chief Mitchell reported to the U. S. Naval Academy (USNA), Annapolis, MD, where he served as the first Master Chief to the Brigade of Midshipmen. He was personally selected for this assignment by the Master Chief of the Navy specifically to introduce thirty-six Sailors and Marines to serve as Company Chiefs and Gunnys to the 4000 midshipmen at USNA. He and these Chiefs and Gunnys were the first to be directly assigned to lead midshipmen in the Academy's 150-year history . Fleet Master Chief Mitchell retired 28 May 1999 following 30 years of service to the U. S. Navy and his country. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland. His personal awards include: Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (three awards); Navy Commendation Medal (two awards); Navy Achievement Medal (two awards) and the Good Conduct Medal (seven awards).