8/3/2006 - Presentation of Raymond McKim Mitchell
A special ceremony honoring the late Raymond (Ray) McKim Mitchell (ME 39) was held at AFS International on June 21st , Ray Mitchell’s family, Tachi Cazal, President of AFS International, Ward Chamberlin, an AFS Life Trustee and AFS International staff attended the event. The Mitchell family presented the Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal that Ray received from the British Crown to Tachi Cazal, who accepted it on behalf of AFS. The Mitchell family also donated Ray’s papers and memorabilia (including correspondence with Stephen Galatti) to the AFS Archives.
The speakers included Mitchell’s sons, Kim and Douglas, his Italian host son Antonioangelo (Tony) Pinna, his granddaughter Catherine Murcek and Ward Chamberlin, an AFS Life Trustee and a WWII Driver. Ward recalled his war service under Mitchell (he became Commanding Officer of the 485 Company when Ray left in June of 1945) and spoke of the steadying influence Mitchell had on his life and actions. Ward learned during the meeting that Mitchell recommended him to Stephen Galatti to lead both AFS companies on the way to India in 1945. Tony Pinna who was hosted by the Mitchells in 1955-56 spoke about the lifelong connection with his AFS family and how lucky he was to have two dads, one in Italy and one in the USA. Kim talked about the family’s decision to give the award to AFS: “It is just right that this Order of the British Empire be saved in the AFS archives, to be seen by the next generations. For Dad it is like coming back home.” Douglas reminisced about growing up with AFS brothers and Catherine read the citation accompanying the award.
Raymond McKim Mitchell (1912-2001) served as an AFS Driver in the Middle East and Italy (1943-45) and became an AFS Major at the end of the war. He was wounded in action on May 21, 1944 during his service in Italy. Mitchell was recognized for his service as Commanding Officer of AFS 485 Company in Italy. He was appointed as honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1945, a distinction earned by only 11 AFS officers in WWII. Mitchell received the OBE medal from Lord Inverchapel, British Ambassador to the United States at the British Embassy in Washington on December 17, 1946. Mitchell’s commitment to AFS continued in the post-war years when he was elected to the AFS Board of Directors and founded an AFS chapter in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Mitchell served as the chapter’s President and over the years he and his wife Marian hosted students from Italy, Austria and Japan. The AFS tradition continues with Mitchell’s granddaughter Amelia who is participating in the Community Service program in Paraguay this summer.
The audience was deeply touched by the Mitchell’s award presentation. It was a very moving and memorable tribute to a true AFS pioneer!
In the photo: Ward Chamberlin, Kim Mitchell and Tachi Cazal displaying the award and citation.