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Jonesboro Green Beret fought for freedom

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Mitch Young had a strong sense of his place in the world, and confidence in his call to duty.

"Ninety percent of people struggle to find what they want to do, what they want to be when they grow up," said Brent Young, Mitch's younger brother. "Mitch wasn't like that. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do. When he joined the Green Berets, he found his place in the world."

Master Sgt. Mitchell W. Young, a 39-year-old, special forces parachutist from Jonesboro, died on July 13, while on a reconnaissance mission in southern Afghanistan.

According to the Army, he was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan and was the 546th American to die in that country during "Operation Enduring Freedom." His humvee hit a "pressure plated, improvised explosive device," Army officials reported.

A Jonesboro High School graduate, the son of Jane Young and the late Dutch Young, he had also served a tour in Iraq. He joined the Army in 1991, at the beginning of the Gulf War. In 1999, according to Army records, Young passed his Special Forces Qualification Course and earned the "Green Beret."

"It was what he wanted to do and what he was good at doing," said Brent Young, speaking from his mother's Jonesboro home, where the family gathered after hearing the news of their loved one's death.

Army records show that Mitch Young earned a long list of awards and decorations, including two Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Service Medal, a Joint Services Commendation Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, and seven service medals.

He was assigned to his final position -- Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Airborne -- in October 2007, and was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2008.

Brent Young said the family hasn't finalized arrangements, but will hold a memorial in Clayton County and a burial in North Carolina. He said the family hoped Mitch Young would be remembered "exactly as he was."

"He was tough," Brent said, "but at the same time, that covered a very gentle soul. He was sympathetic and cared a lot for a lot of people."

Mitch Young believed in American rights and freedoms, and respecting the sacrifices made to protect and preserve those freedoms. In a letter, written to the Clayton News Daily on July 4, 2007, Young took a few paragraphs to put down his thoughts about service, sacrifice and respect.

"Today, our country has more freedoms and wealth than any other in the world," he wrote. "Even though less than 1 percent of the American population serves in the military, it is that sacrifice made by an individual to help protect and guarantee these freedoms."

Mitch Young encouraged everyone to take time to honor veterans and those who'd served the country. Sometimes, though, servicemen and women aren't around, to be thanked, and Mitch asked, in his letter, that everyone remember the military families.

He wrote: "If you are unable to thank a vet, say thanks to either the parents or the spouse of a vet, because they are the ones who worry the most, while the service member is away, protecting your freedoms."

Mitch Young is survived by his wife, Robyn, of Fayetteville, N.C.; his mother, Jane; his sister, Cheryl, of Peachtree City and his brother Brent., of Decatur.