FORT KNOX, Ky. –
Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mitchell wears more than one uniform to support and protect his community and his nation.
During the work week, he dons combat boots and camouflage as a station commander for the U.S. Army’s Hagerstown, Maryland, Recruiting Station. But on evenings and weekends, Mitchell changes into the turnout gear of a firefighter to serve as a volunteer at the Funktown Fire Department.
He’s a Soldier with more than 19 years of military service, and he insists he’s just doing his part to serve his country and community in times of need.
“Everyone should give back no matter what,” Mitchell said. “I joined the Army to give back, and it has given me everything to be able to continue to give back, regardless of where I am or what is going on in the world.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell’s volunteer service to his community has included performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation for three individuals suffering cardiac arrest, potentially cause by COVID-19, and training probationary firefighters to assist in response efforts.
Mitchell joined the Army in August 2001, just before Sept. 11. Since then he’s trained in four career fields, starting as a multiple launch rocket system crewmember, moving on to a water treatment specialist, then a military policeman, and finally his current career as an Army recruiter since 2012.
Over the years he’s taken full advantage of the Army’s tuition assistance program, earning a master’s degree in criminal justice and international law, on top of raising three children and volunteering as a first responder and firefighter. The fire department is paying for him to recertify as an emergency medical technician at the University of Maryland to further assist the Funktown Fire Department and community where he lives.
He’s been a volunteer firefighter for 21 years, starting at the age of 15 when one of his friend’s father invited him down to a station to check it out.
“I fell in love with firefighting, and it was a way to separate myself from the bad crowd I was running with,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he intends to use this time of social distancing to stay busy with his family, his career bringing youth into the Army, recertifying as an EMT, and volunteering in Funktown helping to save lives.
“My favorite time is when I’m in a fire,” he said. “It sounds weird, but I love it. Knowing I’m saving lives and property gives me such a great high, like a gym rat going to a gym and working out.”