Photo by: MacDill Air Force Base
Gen. Bryan Brown, left, says it was Mitchell's "presence, leadership and courage that made the difference in that battle."
By Gary Haber
Published: Nov 15, 2003
MacDill Air Force Base - Presenting the nation's second- highest military honor for the first time since the Vietnam War, the U.S. Special Operations commander saluted a Soldier who "chose courage" under fire in Afghanistan. Army Maj. Mark Mitchell, 38, received the Distinguished Service Cross on Friday, two years after leading 15 men against 500 prisoners who seized control of a fortress and its weapons.
During a bloody three days, Mitchell's unit helped save the life of one CIA agent, recover the body of another, apprehend "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, and coordinate bombings that kept prisoners from escaping with much ammunition.
Mitchell is "an American hero who, when he had the chance to decide, chose courage," said Gen. Bryan Brown, head of U.S. Special Operations Command. "It was Mark's presence, leadership and courage that made the difference in that battle."
Facing a MacDill Air Force Base crowd that included CIA Director George Tenet and the slain agent's widow, Mitchell said he did "no more and no less than my sworn duty."
"I'm unconvinced that my actions deserve this," he said of the award that ranks second only to the Medal of Honor.
Expressing sympathy for the families of all U.S. troops killed , he said to his wife and two children looking on: "You were the only people I ever hoped would consider me a hero."
Maj. Mark Mitchell is a 1987 graduate of Marquette University.