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Stories of Service: WWII veteran Sollie Mitchell dies at 103

Staff Sgt. Sollie Mitchell was the only Black soldier to work in the office of General Douglas MacArthur.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In this week's stories of service, we want to honor Staff Sergeant Sollie Mitchell. He passed away last week at the age of 103-years-old. 

Born in Jacksonville in 1918, Sgt. Mitchell attended the old Stanton High School and then fought in World War II. He was the only Black soldier to work in the office of General Douglas MacArthur.  After his time in the military, he worked on the railroad as a Pullman car porter.  

According to the city of Jacksonville, his mother-in-law introduced him to a friend of hers, Civil Rights Icon A. Phillip Randolph, Sleeping Car Porters President, who helped end segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 2013, we spoke with Mitchell about the importance of the civil rights movement. 

RELATED: Stories of Service: Jacksonville native returns home to discuss Army career

"It's very important to me. It's been 50 years to me. I have seen a lot. There has been a lot of growth," Mitchell told First Coast News. 

Randolph became Mitchell's mentor and played an important role through the railroad in the 1963 March on Washington as the only Pullman car porter on the Freedom Train that took passengers from Jacksonville to the March on Washington.  

In 2021, First Coast News cameras were there for a surprise birthday party as Mitchell prepared to celebrate his 103rd birthday. Of course, we had to ask him for some words of wisdom. 

"My advice to young people. Be your best and live a clean life," Mitchell said. 

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