Virginia Tech to honor U.S. Navy Ensign Sarah Mitchell at Pylon Dedication Ceremony
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will dedicate the engraving of the name of U.S. Navy Ensign Sarah Mitchell of the Class of 2017 on the Ut Prosim Pylon during a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the War Memorial.
Mitchell, of Feasterville, Pennsylvania, died July 8 during a Naval training exercise in the Red Sea. She was 23 and leaves behind a large loving family and a fiance, Dave Collins, who is currently deployed with the Navy.
The ceremony is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. Mitchell’s is the 432nd name added to the Pylons and the first woman.
Cadets remember Mitchell as a hands-on and charismatic young leader who left a lasting impression on everyone who met her. During her senior year, she commanded the corps’ Alpha Company and served as a platoon commander for the university’s Naval ROTC.
“When I came to Alpha Company as a sophomore, she insisted on sitting down to have a meal with every new member of the company, making a conscious effort to get to know us as individuals,” said Cadet Daniel Grigg, a senior in Naval ROTC majoring in political science with a focus in national security and foreign affairs. “This was characteristic of her sleeves-rolled-up, ownership-based approach to leadership, and it inspired all of those around her.”
Mitchell graduated with a degree in biochemistry and minors in chemistry and leadership studies. She commissioned in May 2017 and reported to the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham as a surface warfare officer that June. The destroyer was on deployment to the Middle East from its home port of Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
Members of Mitchell’s family and Collins will attend the Nov. 9 ceremony, along with the entire Corps of Cadets.
“The corps was a huge part of Sarah’s life. She loved being part of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and felt honored to serve her country. Our family will be forever grateful to the corps and their families for all the support they have provided to us since Sarah’s death,” the Mitchell family said. “Sarah viewed the Pylons as sacred ground, and we are proud of Sarah and her sacrifice to our country. It is fitting that Sarah’s name will be inscribed on the Ut Prosim Pylon and an honor that Sarah will be the first woman to be added to the Pylons.”
During the event, the Gregory Guard, the corps’ precision drill team, will perform a rifle salute, and buglers will play echo taps.
Because more than 1,200 guests and cadets are expected to attend, portions of Alumni Mall and Drillfield Drive will be closed beginning at 3 p.m.
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors honored Mitchell with a resolution at its August meeting, recognizing her “unwavering courage and valor.” President Tim Sands honored her with a moment of silence at his State of the University address in September.
The Pylons are a representation of Virginia Tech’s values. The values engraved on the eight pylons are, from left: Brotherhood, Honor, Leadership, Sacrifice, Service, Loyalty, Duty, and Ut Prosim. The Pylons are etched with the names of every Virginia Tech student and graduate who died defending our nation’s freedom, beginning with those lost during World War I.
At the War Memorial’s center, the cenotaph displays the names of Virginia Tech’s seven Medal of Honor recipients.