LtCol William J. “Skull” Mitchell was born and raised in Redford, MI, and is a 1998 graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Criminal Justice. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Platoon Leaders Course in April 1998 and completed The Basic School (TBS) in June 1999 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA. After TBS he completed the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course in September 1999.
First Lieutenant Mitchell attended flight school at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, FL; Corpus Christi, TX; and Kingsville, TX and was designated a Naval Aviator in September 2001. Captain Mitchell completed F/A-18 Hornet training at VMFAT-101 at MCAS Miramar, CA in October 2002 and was ordered to MAG-31 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, SC, reporting to VMFA(AW)-224. During this tour, he completed one deployment
to the Western Pacific and one deployment to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In December 2005, Captain Mitchell reported to 1st Battalion 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, NC as a Forward Air Controller and deployed with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8 and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked on the USS Iwo Jima, for six months in the Mediterranean Sea and North Arabian Gulf.
Captain Mitchell returned to VMFA(AW)-224 at MCAS Beaufort, SC in December 2006 and deployed three times to the Western Pacific. He also graduated from the Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI 2-08) in MCAS Yuma, AZ and the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Course (TOPGUN 1-10) in NAS Fallon, NV.
Major Mitchell reported to 5th Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, CA in 2011 as the Regimental Air Officer and attended WTI 2-1, graduating from the MAWTS-1 Air Officer Course. In June 2011 he deployed with Regimental Combat Team 5 (RCT-5) to Camp Dwyer Afghanistan for 12 months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In January 2013, Major Mitchell joined VMFA-251 in MCAS Beaufort, SC and served as the AMO, OPSO, and XO. He deployed with the Thunderbolts and Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) in March 2015 for eight months, embarked on the USS Theodore Roosevelt while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
In May 2016 Major Mitchell reported to Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation (HQMC Aviation) and spent two years as the TACAIR Integration and F/A-18 requirements action officer. Following his tour at the Pentagon, he reported to VFA-106 at NAS Virginia Beach, VA and completed CAT III refresh training before reporting to MAG-11 at MCAS Miramar in San Diego, CA in October 2018. Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell served as the MAG-11 PSD and Headquarters Squadron Commanding Officer prior to assuming command of VMFA-323 (The Death Rattlers) on 1 Aug 2019.
As the squadron Commanding Officer of VMFA-323 LtCol Mitchell deployed with the death Rattlers on the USS Nimitz while attached to CVW-17 for a record 300 days in support of Operations Resolute Support, Inherent Resolve, and Octave Quartz. During this period, LtCol Mitchell was recognized as the “2020 USMC Tailhooker Of The Year” by the Tailhook association for having the greatest impact to Marine Corps carrier aviation. Under his leadership, VMFA-323 won the 2021 Robert M. Hanson award (best USMC Fighter Attack squadron) and the 2021 USMC Commandant’s Trophy (best squadron in the Marine Corps). LtCol Mitchell is selected for Colonel and currently serving as a fellow at Yale’s International Security Studies program. He has been slated to command Marine Aircraft Group Eleven (MAG-11) upon completion of his fellowship at Yale.
Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell has logged over 3400 flight hours in the F/A-18 Hornet and has flown more than 500 combat flight hours. He has earned the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal with numeral 10, Humanitarian Support Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.