The origin of Veterans Day goes back to Nov. 11, 1918, and is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I hostilities between the Allied Nations and Germany. As many of us remember and honor those who have served the United States in the military, many of us remain unaware of the major contributions Native Americans have made to our armed forces. Native Americans served in the U.S. military in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group and have served with distinction in every major conflict in our history. Each year IAIS honors local Native Americans who have served our country in a special ceremony in keeping with the mission of the Institute and in honor of Veterans Day. The Native American Honoree for 2020 is John Q Mitchell.
John Q Mitchell is on the rolls of the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe. John’s family has a long history of service, one that dates back prior to the founding of the United States. John’s tribe has documented his direct lineage from Paugussett people who served in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, and many of the actions between these major wars. In World War Two, John’s dad, John Q. Mitchell was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Silver Star Medal.
Like his father and namesake, John has an impressive and long record of military service. John is a Vietnam Veteran who enlisted in the United States Air Force in August 1969 and retired as a TSgt. after 22 years, in 1991. Following Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, John was assigned to Myrtle Beach AFB, from 1970-1971. He was then sent to Thailand in 1972 in support of F4E Phantom Fighter/Bomber Jet Aircraft and the heavily armed AC-130 Spectre ground attack and close air support gunships. John’s involvement in Vietnam includes Operation Freedom Train and Operation Linebacker II, air campaigns over North Vietnam.
John’s service to the United States didn’t end after the Vietnam Air Campaigns. He went on to serve at Ellington AFB, Texas, as an instructor for Air National Guard personnel. John’s military career took him all over the United States as well as to the United Kingdom and the Philippines. John conducted Intelligence Operations out of King Salmon Air Force Station, Alaska. His next assignment was at Peterson Field in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, where he was on staff for General Chappie James. John also spent four years at Royal Air Force Base, Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, as well as at McGuire AFB in New Jersey, George AFB in California, and Clark AFB in the Philippines. John’s last assignment was at Lackland AFB in Texas, the place where his career began.
John’s career has also included some interesting and high profile assignments. He was the Operations Logistics Manager, deployed to bring the Shah of Iran to exile on Panama’s Contadora Island. He was also the Operations Logistic Manager that brought Ferdinand Marcos and his family from the Philippines to exile in Hawaii. One of John’s most solemn duties was to support numerous operations that return the remains of America’s KIA’s.
The ceremony at the Institute for American Indian Studies was held on November 8, 2020. The ceremony included drumming and a smudging ceremony and was conducted in the outdoor village.