Reed-Custer superintendent lauded by State Police as holiday Good Samaritan

ISP TROOPER Arturo Resendez adn Reed-Custer Superintendent Mark Mitchell were recognized by ISP for assisting an elderly disabled veteran who was having difficulties in his travels last week.


The Holiday Season is a time for family, friends, and helping those in need, especially those who, perhaps, have been forgotten.

With that spirit in mind, the members of the Illinois State Police (ISP) issued a public thank you to Reed-Custer Superintendent Mark Mitchell, who the law enforcement agency called “a concerned and compassionate citizen” after Mitchell stopped to assist a distressed driver this month.

Last week, Mitchell was driving from Morris to Seneca with his wife Julee when the couple saw a truck that occasionally wandered out of its lane.

The Mitchells followed the truck, which pulled off to the side of the road and parked.

Mitchell pulled over as well, and when he checked on the driver, he learned he was a disabled Vietnam veteran who served two tours of duty and received two Purple Heart medals.

Recognizing the veteran was having difficulty driving, Mitchell called ISP and Trooper Arturo Resendez arrived on scene.

With an approaching storm, Mitchell volunteered to drive the gentleman to his destination with his wife following in their vehicle. During that hour-long trip, Mitchell learned the veteran had been living hotel room to hotel room with an occasional night spent in his truck.

In the true spirit of the Holiday Season, another disabled veteran who grew up with the gentleman and served in the war with him, took him in.  

“I've always had tremendous respect for our first responders, public servants, and veterans, but that respect grew exponentially after seeing the genuine caring and empathy of the Illinois State Trooper who assisted us, and after traveling on an emotional hour-long trip with the elderly disabled veteran,” said Mitchell. “He, along with every other veteran and current military service member, are why we are able to enjoy the free lives that we live. Unfortunately, it seems like they are not always given the recognition and remembrance they whole heartedly deserve. I urge everyone to take the upcoming holiday season as a time to be grateful and thank our public service members, active military members, and veterans for all that they have done and continue to do.”

But, Mitchell also turned down any potential praise for his part as a holiday helper.

“Julee and I are both humbled by the recognition from this event, but the real focus and appreciation should be directed to the police, active service members, and veterans.” Mitchell told the Free Press. “They are the ones who don’t always receive the recognition they deserve. The upcoming holiday season means different things to different people. But a common theme that always resonates is that it's a time to give. We feel grateful to have been given that opportunity the other night.”

Trooper Resendez is also a veteran, and added that he was proud to help out that night.

“Having served in Afghanistan and having teammates awarded the Purple Heart medal, I knew what that symbol meant and I have so much appreciation and respect for what this veteran has done for our country,” said Trooper Resendez. “I was happy to be able to make that connection through our military service and help put him at ease. It’s nice knowing there are still a lot of good people, like the Mitchells, in the world.”

Mitchell returned those words of thanks.

“He treated the elderly gentleman with amazing empathy and care, going so far as thanking him for his service and sharing some of his own personal story by mentioning that he served in Afghanistan,” said Mitchell.