CAPT Robert E. Mitchell graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1942, and received his medical degree from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal, Canada in 1947. Performing his internship and residency at the U.S. Naval Hospitals in San Diego and Oakland, he attended the Army Medical Service Graduate School at Walter Reed Army Medical Center before being designated a Naval Flight Surgeon at Naval Air Station Pensacola in 1955. His career included service ashore and afloat, including duty as Senior Medical Officer on the carrier Shangri-La (CVA 38), Staff Medical Officer for the First Marine Aircraft Wing in Vietnam, and Senior Medical Officer and Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Hospital at NS Rota, Spain. He accumulated 2,000 flight hours, including many under combat conditions.

Furthermore, he spent fifteen years in various posts at the U.S. Naval School of Aviation Medicine, and Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, culminating with command of the latter. During this time, he played the leading role in the "Thousand Aviator Study", and a program of medical evaluation of repatriated Vietnam prisoners of war, both landmark studies that have contributed immeasurably to the medical field.

After 44 years of selfless dedicated service, CAPT Mitchell retired. "Doc" Mitchell is well respected by the RPWs and is known for his classic house calls to area RPWs and telephone consultations to those geographically distant. He is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and Royal Society of Medicine. "Doc" Mitchell was made an Honorary Naval Aviator June 1990.