William Ward Mitchell died in action in France August 2, 1944 at the age of 24.
War Department The Adjutant General’s Office Washington, D.C. 24 October 1944
My dear Mrs. Mitchell: I have the honor to inform you that by direction of the President, the Silver Star has been posthumously awarded to your husband, First Lieutenant William W. Mitchell, Cavalry. The citation is as follows: Silver Star “For gallantry in action against the enemy near ****, France, 28 July 1944, the ** Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was given the mission of taking the village of **** and subsequently the town of ****, Troop ** was given the mission, assisted by a platoon of tanks, with First Lieutenant Mitchell in command of the tank platoon. While in support of Troop **, with his tank platoon, Lieutenant Mitchell received word that contact with the enemy had been made, and the tanks were needed. First Lieutenant Mitchell dismounted from his tank and ran forward to make a personal reconnaissance of the area. He was fired on by enemy machine guns, and one man, a scout from Troop **, fell wounded. While in plain sight of the enemy and under heavy fire, First Lieutenant Mitchell went back to the fallen man and carried him to a covered position. After receiving his orders, First Lieutenant Mitchell moved his tank platoon forward to attack the enemy positions in the hedgerows. In moving forward, First Lieutenant Mitchell’s tank threw a track. First Lieutenant Mitchell dismounted while under heavy fire and ran over to the tank of his platoon sergeant, assumed command of it, and led his platoon forward to attack. First Lieutenant Mitchell’s prompt action and disregard for personal danger in retaining control of his platoon, and his subsequent leadership in the attack were undoubtedly a contributing factor to its success. Heavy casualties were being incurred among friendly troops among friendly troops from enemy mortar fire, and it was vital that the tanks clear the enemy positions, which they subsequently did. This, in turn, enabled the entire squadron to attain its objective for the day. On 2 August, 1944, while leading his platoon in an attack to gain high ground south of the **** River, First Lieutenant Mitchell was killed by the explosion of an enemy anti-tank grenade against the turret of his tank. Being one of the most outstanding tank platoon leaders in the Squadron, no assigned mission was too difficult for him.First Lieutenant Mitchell held the respect and complete confidence of every man in his platoon for his unusual leadership and courage demonstrated in the face of hostile activity. Such gallant leadership as that of First Lieutenant Mitchell is in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army.”
First Lieutenant Mitchell was initially buried in St. Laurent, France, during the war.
William Ward Mitchell volunteered for service on Dec. 122, 1941, just five days following Pearl Harbor. He was a graduate of Johnson City High School and attended both Carson-Newman College and the University of Tennessee.
Information submitted by Catharine Murray. First Lieutenant Mitchell was her mother-in-law’s first husband.