Wyoming War Hero Salute: Lnt. Col. Joseph L. Hart
We eventually go back to Vietnam for another of our Wyoming War Hero Salutes - starting in a small Western Wyoming town. Joseph Leslie Hart would work at the Pentagon as a Lieutenant Colonel for the United States Air Force.
Joseph Hart was born in Thayne, Wyoming in September of 1924. Before entering the service most of Joe’s years were spent in Lincoln County and his hometown of record is Afton, Wyoming - near the borders of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
Hart’s service years are listed as 1943-1967, but he got a B.S. Degree at Utah State (1948-51), then took the A-1 Skyraider Class at Hurlburt Field AFB in Florida. Joe would fly every chance he got, and eventually served in Laon, France with the rank of captain in 1959. Three years later the captain was getting a master’s degree in Public Administration at George Washington University (1962-63).
Hart took that education into a role with the Air Force Command’s Emergency Action Team at the Pentagon, where he stayed until going to Vietnam in October 1966. He would continue planning and operations for Southeast Asia from there, and fly again.
Over his time in the Air Force Hart flew various tactical aircraft on 120 combat missions. The last unit he commanded was the 1st Air Commando Squadron, 14th Air Commando Wing, 7th Air Force.
On February 02/25/1967, at age 42, he didn't return from his 121st mission, killed over Laos by enemy fire in what is called an air loss, when a pilot is dead outright and the body not recovered. The Lieutenant Colonel's name is on the Vietnam Memorial Wall Panel 15E, line 90.
It's clear that Joe was also a husband, and father - leaving a wife, two daughters and one son (little Joseph is pictured here).