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Pilots N Paws


Several months ago, author Barbara  Chepaitis released a book called “Feathers of Hope” (wildreads.com) about a wonderful man, Pete Dubacher who started Berkshire Bird Paradise in NY, birdpardise.org.    Little did she know that this would lead to her involvement with  Navy Seals!

Author Barbara and Mitch

During a routine patrol, the Navy Seals saw an eagle being shot on a rifle range. The Seals were able to rescue the eagle and tend its wounds, ensuring its survival. The service members cared for this Steppe Eagle, whom they named ‘Mitch,’ building him a cage and feeding him as he healed. They soon discovered that Mitch’s wing was permanently disabled. The eagle had great significance to the soldiers since our American eagle is a symbol of our freedom. 

"Mitch" in recovery with his soldiers

One of the soldiers petty officer Craig White,  read about the bird sanctuary through Barbara’s book and the mission became how to get this eagle home and safe in the sanctuary.  Barbara made it her personal goal to help our Navy Seals bring “Mitch” home…. Little did she know it would involve endless phone calls to many government offices and the assistance of NY Senator Schumer and  Caroline Wekselbaum to work with several government groups and representatives of the USDA to make arrangements for Mitch to fly home!  Finally, after weeks of work and just a few setbacks, all was set!  Mitch would be coming home with his Navy Seals.

Mitch waiting for a flight to his new home!

Once Mitch arrived, he would need the help of Pilots N Paws pilots to make the final journey to his place of quarantine in NY before heading to his permanent home at the sancutary.  Pilots Jerry Sica and Nick O’Connell both were on board only to find out that the arrival date had changed and they were unable to make the flight.  At the last minute pilot John Williams and his co-pilot C.M. Funk stepped up and allowed Mitch to have the wings he could no longer fly with. 

PNP Pilot John Williams and C.M.Funk arriving with Mitch!

Barbara was at the airport to meet Mitch for the first time.  It was a true picture of love and represented more then just an eagle in a crate.  This was an eagle our soldiers had cared about and saved in the middle of a war zone.  It certainly speaks to the compassionate and patriotic values that our soldiers portray every single day!  Special thanks to soldier Scott Hickman who took care of Mitch for the first 3-4 months and who, according to Craig, is responsible for rescuing him.

It will not be long before “Mitch” is out of quarantine and living his new life of  freedom at the Berkshire sanctuary.  Pete plans on allowing him to share space with a few other birds there and though Mitch will never fly again, he will always represent the caring side of all Americans.  Welcome home Mitch and thank you PNP pilots for playing a big part in making this happen. God Bless America and our troops!

Mitch being cared for by Dr.Eileen Jenkins, Army Veterinarian in Afghanistan

"Mitch and his American Eagle friend Eddie, sharing a perch"


  1. DeEtte Pace says:

    what a wonderful heartfelt story!! thanks to all for caring enough to get this beautiful bird to safety and healing. It does my heart good to know there are people out there who truly care. God bless our soldiers, caregivers and PNP, love you!!!

  2. Judy says:

    Outstanding story!

  3. Sue Thomas says:

    What a wonderful story. What a wonderful gut that did this for this eagle.

  4. lala says:

    What a wonderful story of compassion. Thank you Pilots and Paws (and wings!)

  5. Fly Girl says:

    What a nice story. Also, thank you soldiers for your service.

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