Colonel (Ret.) Joe Jackson served as a career officer in the U.S. Air Force for 33 years and received the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War for a dangerous rescue operation of three American military personnel. On May 12, 1968, then Lieutenant Colonel Jackson, a C-123 Provider pilot, volunteered to attempt the rescue of a 3-man Air Force Combat Control Team from the Special Forces camp at Kham Duc. Hostile forces had overrun the forward outpost, and the runway was engulfed in flames, taking constant enemy fire and littered with debris. Jackson, fully aware of the extreme danger, elected to land his aircraft near the point where the combat control team was reported to be hiding. While on the ground, a rocket landed in front of the nose of the aircraft but failed to explode. Once the combat control team was aboard, Jackson then succeeded in getting airborne despite the hostile fire directed across the runway in front of the aircraft.
On January 16, 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Jackson with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. On May 14, 2010, NBC News highlighted his weekly contributions (over the last 18 years) to a local church that provides meals to the hungry.