Virginia Tech honors fallen U.S. Navy Ensign with Pylon dedication

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- The Pylons that stand above Virginia Tech's War Memorial chapel show the names of 431 men -- Hokies who gave their lives defending their country.

"In their silence, they pay reverence to the names that are engraved upon them. In their silence, they allow the voices of those whose names are engraved upon them to speak to us," said Major General Randal Fullhart, Virginia Tech's Commandant of Cadets.

On Friday, the first woman was added to that list: U.S. Navy Ensign Sarah Mitchell.

Mitchell, a 2017 graduate of Virginia Tech and the Corps of Cadets, died in July during a Naval training exercise in the Red Sea.

"Once in a while, a person comes into our lives that will impact us forever," said Command Sergeant Major Daniel Willey, the senior enlisted advisor for the 1st Battalion. "These people are rare. They're very rare. As a cadet, Sarah was my one in a thousand."

In her time with the cadets, Mitchell commanded the corps' Alpha Company and served as a platoon commander for the university's Naval ROTC.

Her name is etched into the pylon bearing Virginia Tech's motto: Ut Prosim.

"How appropriate, where Ensign Mitchell's name will reside: Ut Prosim - that she did serve," Fullhart said.

"The Corps was a huge part of Sarah's life," Mitchell's family said in a statement. "She loved being part of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and felt honored to serve her country. Our family will be forever grateful to the Corps and their families for all the support they have provided to us since Sarah's death.

"Sarah viewed the Pylons as sacred ground, and we are proud of Sarah and her sacrifice to our country. It is fitting that Sarah's name will be inscribed on the Ut Prosim Pylon and an honor that Sarah will be the first woman to be added to the Pylons."