Lawrence Mitchell was born in 1941, in Kimberly, W.Va., and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, Beckley, W.Va. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska in 1975. He also completed the management program for executives at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh.
He was commissioned in June 1963 through Air Force Officer Candidate School. Prior to his commissioning, he served as a maintenance technician on the bomb navigation system of B/EB-47s and was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio. After graduating from pilot training at Webb Air Force Base, Texas, in August 1964, he reported to Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., where he flew EC-, KC- and RC-135s.
In April 1969 he was assigned to the 82nd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, as a squadron instructor pilot in RC-135s. There he flew more than 100 reconnaissance missions in Southeast Asia. Two years later he transferred to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, where he served as a tactical fighter strike officer with the 7th Air Force and later with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam.
He returned to Offutt Air Force Base in January 1973 as an RC-135 special activities operations staff officer for the Strategic Reconnaissance Center, Headquarters Strategic Air Command. He became the operations officer for the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, also at Offutt, in March 1976.
Lawrence was assigned as operations officer for the 24th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Strategic Wing, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, in May 1977 and in August 1978 became squadron commander. He reported to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., in June 1980 and served as deputy chief of the Reconnaissance Division, Directorate of Operations.
In August 1983 he was assigned to the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, as assistant deputy commander for operations. He became deputy commander for operations in May 1984 and served as wing vice commander from June 1985 until June 1986, when he became wing commander. In June 1988 he was assigned to Air Force headquarters as deputy director for forces, Directorate of Programs and Evaluation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Resources. He became commander of the 14th Air Division, Beale Air Force Base, in September 1989. He was promoted to brigadier general March 1, 1990, with same date of rank.
Brigadier General Lawrence A. Mitchell was commander, Second Air Force, Beale Air Force Base, Calif. until his retirement July 1st, 1993
The general is a command pilot with more than 8,000 flying hours. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal.