Colonel John W. Mitchell planned and led one of the longest fighter interception missions of World War II. That mission resulted in the shooting down of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. After graduating from flying school in 1940, Colonel Mitchell was assigned to the 20th Pursuit Group, flying P-40s. He spent 3 months in England studying British fighter tactics before being assigned to the 70th Pursuit Squadron in the Pacific-Theater. While flying P-39s out of Guadalcanal, Colonel Mitchell shot down his first enemy aircraft. He was promoted to Squadron Commander of the 339th Fighter Squadron, flying P-38s, where he got the opportunity to get Yamamoto.
During his first over-seas tour, Colonel Mitchell downed a total of eight enemy aircraft. He returned to the United States in 1943 and was assigned to the first American jet group where he flew the first jet cross-country flight from New York to California. In 1945, he returned to the Pacific as the 15th Fighter Group Commander, flying P-51s. Flying bomber escort missions from Iwo Jima to the Japanese mainland he shot down another four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to 12. Colonel Mitchell returned to combat in 1952 as Commander of the 5lst Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea. He flew 110 missions in the F-86 and shot down four MiGs over the Yalu River, bringing his total victories to 16.
In the P-38 depicted, Colonel Mitchell led the mission to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto. American forces intercepted a message containing the Admiral's scheduled landing on Bougainville Island and, with only 24 hours notice, the P-38s were modified with long-range external tanks while Colonel Mitchell planned the rendezvous. On April 18, 1943, after flying a deceptive 440-mile overwater route, Colonel Mitchell's crews intercepted and shot down the Admiral's "Betty" bomber.