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Nation’s highest civilian award will be given to Rho Mitchell, late Albion resident

Staff Reports Posted 26 October 2017 at 5:07 pm

Collins will present Congressional Gold Medal for the Civil Air Patrol member

Rho Mitchell, right, is pictured in 2012 with his son David and grandson Josh. All three made their careers as funeral directors. Bruce Landis took this photo that hangs inside Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes.

ALBION – Congressman Chris Collins on Saturday will present a Congressional Gold Medal, the Nation’s highest civilian award, to the widow of Rho B. Mitchell of Albion.

Mrs. Beverly Mitchell will be presented the award for her late husband’s efforts in the United States Civil Air Patrol during World War II. The award will be presented as part of a ceremony held at 11 a.m. at the family business which is the Christopher Mitchell Funeral Home, 21 West Ave.

Senator Robert Ortt will be in attendance along with Ed Morgan from Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s office. The Civil Air Patrol New York Wing Commander, Col. Tom Carello, will be the Master of Ceremony for the event.

Mr. Mitchell was born in Elmira in 1928. He joined the Civil Air Patrol as a cadet while in High School in Elmira. During his service with the Civil Air Patrol, Mr. Mitchell earned his pilot’s license. Mr. Mitchell was also in the Navy Reserve and while in college, he was called to duty with the Navy two weeks after marrying his high school sweetheart Beverly.

After one year on a carrier in the Atlantic, Mr. Mitchell returned to the US to serve a second year of duty. Upon discharge from the Navy, Mr. Mitchell completed college at the Simmons Institute of Funeral Services and moved to Albion in 1957 to open the Christopher Mitchell Funeral Home.

Assigned to the War Department under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps, the Civil Air Patrol had more than 120,000 volunteers. CAP members patrolled the country’s coastline from Maine to Mexico and the southern border with Mexico by air, vigilant for enemy submarines and potential saboteurs. Others towed targets for military trainees, watched for forest fires, conducted search and rescue missions, provided disaster relief and emergency transport of people and parts and conducted orientation flights for future pilots. The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Corps was formed in October 1942 to provide pre-military and aviation training to potential future recruits.

In all, 68 CAP members lost their lives in the line of duty by the end of the war.

Since the first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded in 1776 to General George Washington by the Second Continental Congress, there have been more than 300 recipients. The Senate passed legislation authorizing the award of Congressional Gold Medal to Civil Air Patrol WWII members in May 2013, with the House following suit a year later. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law May 30.

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