U.S. Navy Ensign Sarah Mitchell, a 2017 graduate of Virginia Tech and the Corps of Cadets, died July 8 during a training exercise in the Red Sea. She was 23.

Mitchell, of Oakford, Pennsylvania, earned a degree in biochemistry with minors in chemistry and leadership studies. During her senior year, she commanded the corps’ Alpha Company and served as a platoon commander for the university’s Naval ROTC.

“Her tragic passing in the line of duty reminds us all of the amazing young men and women who choose to wear the cloth of our nation’s military,” said Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, the commandant of cadets. “As a cadet, Ensign Mitchell epitomized the university’s motto, Ut Prosim, That I May Serve, in so many ways. From her first year as a new cadet, she showed the traits of leadership by showing concern for her fellow cadets and ultimately rose to command one of our companies during her senior year.”

The university intends to add her name to the Ut Prosim Pylon, Fullhart said. A date for that ceremony will be announced later.

Friends and classmates say they will remember her drive and energy but more importantly her positive attitude and constant smile.

“Sarah has been one of my closest friends since I was a freshman five years ago,” said Kevin Byerly, a senior in Naval ROTC from Virginia Beach, Virginia, majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in naval engineering and leadership studies.

“Fighting tooth and nail to get a commissioning slot, she proved she was both loyal and hard-working. Beyond that she was a close friend and confidante,” Byerly said. “Working together in command, I could always rely on her to tell me or anyone else when they were doing well or poorly — but also to provide feedback to help us be our best selves. I could trust her with any task or information and know that it was safe with her.”

Mitchell commissioned in May 2017 and reported to the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham in June 2017. The destroyer is on deployment to the Middle East from its home port of Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, 65 E. Street Road, Feasterville, Pennsylvania. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fisher House Foundation, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 410, Rockville, MD 20852.

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