Joe Madison Jackson

Personal Information

Joe Madison Jackson was born in Newnan, Coweta County, Georgia on March 14, 1923.  As a young man he developed an interest in model aircraft which led to his enlistment in the Army Air Corps at age 18.


Today Colonel Jackson lives in Washington State and often speaks about patriotism and the value of service to Country.

Medal of Honor Event

On 12 May 1968, Lieutenant Colonel Joe M. Jackson, commander of an unarmed C-123 transport aircraft, flew from Da Nang to Kham Duc, South Vietnam, on an emergency mission.  A Special Forces camp at Kham Duc was being overrun by enemy forces.  They had taken the forward outpost and were in complete control of the airstrip.  Located in a valley, the airstrip was surrounded on all sides by mountainous terrain.


While orbiting over the battle area Colonel Jackson learned by radio that in the evacuation of the camp by

air a three-man Combat Control Team had inadvertently been left behind.  Another C-123 transport was ahead of Colonel Jackson in the traffic pattern. The aircraft landed successfully on the airstrip littered with debris, including a wrecked helicopter, but failed to evacuate the team.


Colonel Jackson then descended rapidly from 9,000 feet and made an assault landing on the strip under heavy enemy fire. After he stopped, a rocket fell in front of the transport.  A dud, it bounced harmlessly toward the nose of the plane without exploding.  Colonel Jackson had landed near the spot where the three men had been reported to be hiding.  With the team safely on board, he quickly took off under a mortar barrage and intense automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills.  After landing at Da Nang the crew found that not a single bullet had touched their aircraft during the entire flight.


Colonel Jackson was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing the three-man team. The presentation was made by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House on 16 January 1969. Air Force Report Summarizing the Vietnam Era

Service Record

Just nine months after his enlistment World War II started and he was assigned to serve aboard a B-25 bomber as its crew chief.  After serving as the crew chief he entered Aviation Cadet training and became a commissioned officer.  During World War II he gained experience in many different aircraft, but by the end of the war he was a B-24 bomber pilot.


During the Korean War Jackson flew over 100 combat missions in an F-84 Thunderjet fighter.  In addition to his Korean War experience he made a number of important contributions to U. S. aviation including:

Discovering a formulaic method of navigating an aircraft back to base in poor weather

Developing Standard Jet Penetration, a popular method of landing a jet aircraft with low ceilings and low visibility

Developing mass transoceanic ferrying flights

Creating a bomb-throwing method allowing nuclear weapons to be delivered by fighter aircraft

Planning and directing aerial reconnaissance over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962

Becoming one of the first Air Force pilots to fly the U-2 Dragonlady reconnaissance aircraft


During the Vietnam War Jackson was assigned to fly the C-123 Provider over South Vietnam. He flew 298 combat missions during this period, but it was his rescue mission on May 12, 1968 during the Battle of Kham Duc that earned him the nation's highest award for military valor.

Medals and Awards

   Medal of Honor

   Distinguished Flying Cross

   Air Medal

   Air Force Commendation Medal


A marker has been placed outside the courthouse in his hometown of Newnan, Georgia

Copyright 2013 Hilliard A Wilbanks Foundation