TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KGET)— Courage, Purity, and Justice are what symbolize the red, white, and blue on the American Flag, our symbol of freedom since 1777.
Naval Officer Lt. Gilbert Louis Mitchell Jr. will be honored for his courage after he crashed in North Vietnam in 1968. His body was never recovered.
Commander Lynn Eckert with the American Legion in Tehachapi says, “There is a man. There is a face. There is a vet who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, for our freedom, and we need to recognize him.”
After two years of planning, a one-of-a-kind bench honoring Mitchell was created by a company called, Canvus. Canvus uses wind turbine blades and recycles them into memorials.
Tehachapi councilmember and Veteran, Phil Smith says, “The lower portion is a larger portion of a wind turbine blade, and the upper portion is more toward the tip.”
Canvus donated six benches honoring veterans including the bench for Mitchell. He’s also honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington and the smaller replica in the Antelope Valley. “I was able to go up and touch his spot on that wall,” said Commander Eckert.
Mitchell was born in 1941 in Los Angeles. According to the MIA Accounting Agency, he served as a bombardier navigator for the U.S. Navy on an A-6A Intruder called, “Flying Ace 511.”
On March 6, 1968 Mitchell was part of a four-aircraft strike mission against targets in the Hanoi-Haiphong Harbor area of North Vietnam. The Intruder was shot down. Mitchell was never found. He was 26.
The Navy promoted Mitchell to Lt. Commander following the incident. “If I don’t do anything else for the Legion, with the community, and help everybody else help me, than at least we have a legacy that we did this for this man and this community,” said Eckert.
Eckert says Gilbert Louis Mitchell’s picture will also be integrated into the memorial along with a gold plaque.
The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion in Tehachapi.