The military says two Marine helicopters collided in flight before sunrise.
His parents say he volunteered for the mission and left ahead of his unit, which got to Afghanistan days after the crash.
The 30-year-old's family says when he was a child; he loved aviation and dreamed of flying.
"From the time he was just a little bitty guy, he loved airplanes," Captain Mitchell's mother Connie Mitchell said. "I mean he loved anything to do with airplanes."
Captain Mitchell's family says they are proud that he pursued a career in aviation and in the military.
He is known as "Seth" to them. They say he was a beloved son and big brother who grew up near Charlotte and later Ohio, where he played high school football. After college, he joined the Marines.
"One of the good things about right now is we knew and he knew of the risks," Captain Mitchell's father Steve Mitchell said. "You never believe it's going to happen, you never want to think it's going to happen, but we knew they were there."
His family says he was a humble man who didn't talk much about all the medals and commendations he had received.
"He was just a good guy, a really good friend, loyal friend and apparently he was a heck of a Marine," Steve Mitchell said.
His family says being a military pilot was a job to him, one he loved and did exceptionally well.
"We talked the other day, it may be that he achieved every one of his goals and it was his time," Steve Mitchell said.
The Mitchell's say they're doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. and they're grateful for all the support they've received from the community.
Captain Mitchell's funeral is next Wednesday in Cary. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next Friday.