MITCHELL, Lt. Col. Richard F., Ret., died at home, with his loving family at his side, on July 16, 2002, after a year-long struggle with cancer. He was born Sept. 19, 1919, in San Francisco, the only son of Frank Ambrose Mitchell and Florence Edith Manning. He was a descendant of families who settled the Soledad Canyon in the Santa Clarita Valley in the 1850s. He spent his childhood years on the family ranches and was educated at Sulphur Springs School, a one-room school where his mother was the teacher. He graduated from San Fernando High School and attended Los Angeles City College. As a young man he was drawn to radio broadcasting and worked for KHJ in Los Angeles and for the first television station in the western United States.
He married Betty Mae French on July 21, 1942. Together they had two children, Richard of Santa Barbara and Joyce of Santa Cruz. He was a graduate of the Regular Officers Advanced Class of the Army Infantry School and the Army Command and General Staff College, University of Maryland, Brooks Institute of Photography and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
LT COL Mitchell was a veteran of both World War II and Korea. In 1938 he enlisted with Company "H" 160th Infantry of the California National Guard and began his long career of military service. He served in World War II as a company commander and battalion operations officer in the 405th Infantry Regiment of the 102nd Infantry Division, seeing combat in Belgium, France and Germany. After the war he was assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division stationed in Sapporo, Japan. In September of 1950 he landed at Inchon in Korea with the 7th Infantry Division as part of the amphibious operation that forced the North Korean Army to withdraw to the north. He fought in five campaigns in Korea as a battalion operations officer, including the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, where the US Marines and Army were vastly outnumbered and surrounded by the Chinese in sub-zero weather.
From 1955 to 1958 he was assigned to the US Army Europe Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, as Chief Intelligence Analyst, Order of Battle Section. In 1958 he was assigned to Santa Barbara as Professor of Military Science at Santa Barbara High School. From there he was again assigned to Korea, as Chief G-3 Operations Officer. In 1964 he was assigned to the Pentagon as Chief of the Informational Services Branch in the Office of the Army Chief of Information.
He was awarded the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Combat Infantry Badge with star, the Army Presidential Citation, the Navy Presidential Citation with two stars, two Korean Presidential Citations, and the American Defense, American Campaign, European-African-Middle East Campaign, World War II Victory, Army of Occupation, Korean, United Nations, Korea, National Defense, Reserve and Korean Government Service Medals.
After retiring from the Army in 1965 he returned to Santa Barbara where he began a second career at UCSB in the Learning Resources Department, now known as the Instructional Services Department, retiring as the Director of Instructional Services in 1990.
In retirement, Mitch was active in a number of service and military organizations. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Army Chapter of the Chosin Few, Commander of the Santa Barbara Chapter of The Military Order of the World Wars, and was a member of the Chosin Few, the Korean War Veterans Association, the 31st Infantry Regiment Association, the 102nd Infantry Division Association, the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, Santa Barbara Host Lions Club and the University Club. Mitch and Betty also enjoyed travel and learning opportunities worldwide.
For more than 20 years he researched the genealogy of his family, tracing his ancestors to the Civil War, American Revolution, Jamestown Colony, England, and beyond. Based upon his research he wrote a comprehensive family history, "Tom Mitchell of the Soledad," as a final gift to the family.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty; son Richard and daughter-in-law Janet; daughter Joyce; and grandson Charles of Santa Barbara. Everyone in the family will miss his generous nature, courageous spirit, wonderful mind, kind heart and steady hand.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, July 23, at 1 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Cemetery Chapel with interment to follow.
Memorial donations may be made to the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, 300 W Pueblo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.
Welch-Ryce-Haider, 15 East Sola Street, Santa Barbara, (805) 965-5145, is in charge of the funeral arrangements.