Lt. Col. Harold E. Mitchell, USAF (Ret), 87, of Sedalia, died Thursday, February 14, 2013 at his home.

He was born June 22, 1925 in Bloomington, IL, the son of the late Harold Luther and Eleanor Anne (Haven) Mitchell. He was united in marriage to Nancy Malone Robles, who preceded him in death in 1987. He later married Anna Marie Klein, who survives of the home.

Harold was a career Air Force officer who honorably served his country for 28 years.    He began his career at the age of 18, enlisting into the U.S. Army’s Air Corp during World War II. He served as bombardier and chin turret gunner on B-17s in England, flying 10 combat missions and supporting the Berlin Air lift. Subsequent to the war, he attended Kansas State University before joining the newly formed United States Air Force. During the Korean War, First Lieutenant Mitchell served in the theater of operations for 13 months, where he flew C-119s and C-47s, performing two airborne combat drops of airborne troops during the Chosin Reservoir evacuation, frontline re-supply drops, and medevac and logistics flights in support of United Nations Forces. In 1960, then Captain Mitchell and his C-119 crew participated in special aerial recovery missions under a then classified intelligence program, code name Corona, where they were the first aircrew in the USAF to successfully execute a mid-air recovery of a space capsule ejected from an orbiting satellite. The capture of the capsule resulted in the U.S. obtaining ground breaking intelligence photos of the Soviet Union. During the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell flew AC-47 and AC-119 reconnaissance and gunship missions in support of U.S. ground forces in Vietnam. Over the span of his career, Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell earned the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with an oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star. Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell retired from active duty in 1974, moving to rural Sedalia to raise quarter horses and black angus cattle until 2002, when he moved to Sedalia.

He is survived by four children, Captain Dennis E. Mitchell USN (Ret), of Newport News, VA, Michelle M. Hanko, of Raytown, MO, Patricia H. Mitchell, of Columbia, MO and Commander Theresa K. “Tiki” Mitchell USN, JAGC (Ret), of Burke, VA; one sister, Frances Nyweide, of Bettendorf, IA; and four grandchildren.