Spokane, Washington, US
United States Marine Corps
PFC, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines
Okinawa, Japan, 07/22/2004
West Central Spokane family is grieving for a 19-year-old Marine private who died after falling victim to heat exhaustion while training on Okinawa, Japan, last week.
Private First Class Dennis Mitchell II, a 2003 graduate of North Central High School, collapsed while on a training hike on July 21 in preparation for being deployed in the global war on terrorism.
He died the next day after his internal organs shut down at a hospital in Gushikawa on Okinawa, said Mitchell’s mother, Rosanne Love, of Spokane. He never regained consciousness.
She said her son was stationed at Marine headquarters at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, after joining the Corps in September 2003.
“He always wanted to be a Marine,” Love said, “and always dressed in khakis.”
Mitchell was born in Spokane on April 22, 1985, to Love and her then-husband, Dennis Mitchell. While at North Central High School he was drum line captain of the school band and was voted “most inspirational” by his band class four years in a row, said Mitchell’s sister, Jennifer Love, 13.
She and her mother said Mitchell loved playing paintball and participated in baseball, soccer and bowling. His mother said he had perfect attendance all through high school even though he also worked at Wendy’s.
“He didn’t graduate with honors, but he did well,” Love said.
After being informed of her son’s death, Love said, she found out from Marine officers who visited her that Mitchell apparently intended to marry a Spokane woman, whom she declined to identify.
Another of Mitchell’s sisters, Heidi Schaffer, 21, said Mitchell lost more than 70 pounds, while gaining muscle mass, to prepare for the Marines.
Jennifer Love remembered her brother as always giving her encouragement and advice.
“When he was little, he dressed up as Santa Claus for me because one of my friends told me Santa wasn’t real,” she said. “I knew it was my brother, but he gave that faith back to me.”