Special Operations Memorial Foundation

Joe M. Jackson

Joe M. Jackson

U.S. Air Force

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action on 1`2 May 1968, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, Lieutenant Colonel Jackson distinguished himself as the pilot of a C-123 aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Jackson volunteered to attempt the rescue of a three-man U.S. Air Force Combat Control Team from the Special Forces camp at Kham Duc, republic of Vietnam. Hostile Forces had overrun the forward outpost and established gun positions on the airstrip. They were raking the camp with small arms fire, mortar, light and heavy automatic weapons, and recoilless rifle fire. The camp was engulfed in flames and ammunition dumps were continually exploding and littering the runway with debris. In addition, eight aircraft had been destroyed by the intense enemy fire, and one aircraft remained on the runway reducing its usable length to only 2,200 feet. To further complicate the landing, the weather was deteriorating rapidly, thereby permitting only one air strike prior to his landing. Although fully aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, Lieutenant Colonel Jackson elected to land his aircraft and attempt the rescue. Displaying superb airmanship and extraordinary heroism, he landed his aircraft near the point where the combat control team was reported to be hiding. While on the ground, his aircraft was the target of intense hostile fire. A rocket landed in front of the nose of the aircraft but failed to explode. Once the combat control team was aboard, Lieutenant Colonel Jackson succeeded in getting airborne despite the hostile fire directed across the runway in front of his aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Jackson's profound concerns for his fellow men, at the risk of his life, and above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force, and reflect great credit upon himself, and the Armed Forces of his country.

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