LTC (Retired) AUS, Joseph C. Haines Sr. returned to his eternal father on July 18, 2019, at the age of 97 years, 10 months.
He was born to Howard and Vera Haines in Somerville, N.J., on Sept. 22, 1921. They preceded him in death, along with his sisters, Elmera and Vera Grace and brother, Howard Jr. He was also preceded by two nieces, Susan and Patty, and granddaughter, Kim. His wife of 58 years, Clara passed away in 2017.
Joseph graduated from Bordentown (N.J.) High School in June 1940. He first married a classmate, Evelyn Jones, and they had three daughters, Evelyn, Saundra and Sharon. After they divorced, he met Clara while he was stationed at Fort Sill. They married in 1959. They have a daughter, Maryann Lee, and son, Joseph Jr. Both are El Reno High School graduates.
Joseph entered military service on Sept. 9, 1940, when he enlisted in the New Jersey National Guard.
He entered into federal service on Sept. 16, 1940, when all of the National Guard was mobilized due to the war in Europe.
He served in various enlisted roles in the Quartermaster, Infantry and Cavalry units of the 44th Infantry Division, rising to the rank of Corporal. In July 1942, he was accepted for Officer Candidate School (OCS), and sent to Fort Riley, Kan. In October 1942, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Cavalry, Army of the United States (AUS), and designated for assignment.
He was assigned as a platoon leader to the reconnaissance troop of the newly formed 106th Infantry Division “Golden Lions.” He served in this capacity throughout their fighting in the Normandy, Ardennes and Rhineland-Alsace campaigns.
In December 1945, the main German attack in the “Battle of the Bulge” came through his area. After staying behind to ensure that his wounded men made it back to the American lines, he was captured. Joseph received his Purple Heart in May 1945 when he was shot while attempting to escape from the prison camp. He continued to serve his country in both the active and reserves, with increasing responsibilities and various level of commands in both Field Artillery and Aviation units, until his retirement in 1970 after 30 years of service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
His last assignment prior to retirement was Senior First Army Advisor to the New Jersey National Guard.
His awards and decorations include, but are not limited to the Master Army Aviator Badge, Purple Heart Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe-Africa-Middle-East Campaign Medal with four Battle Stars, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Word War II Victory Medal, Korea Service Medal and Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Gold Hourglass.
Joseph was a graduate of the Cavalry Officers Basic Course, Field Artillery and Aviation Officers Advance Course(s), Combined Arms and Service School, U.A. Army War College and the U.S. Coast Guard Air Search and Rescue School. He was a rated Master Army aviator with over 2,000 flight hours in over 15 types of rotary and fixed wing aircraft and was rated as an Instructor Pilot for single and multi-engine aircraft.
In between his military service, he owned and operated a service station in New Jersey, and worked in the Division of Aeronautics for the New Jersey State Department of Transportation. He worked his way up the ranks and retired as Bureau Chief in 1977. After retirement, he honored his pledge to Clara, and returned to Oklahoma, with the family settling in El Reno.
Joseph was a member of the Citizens Rifle and Revolver Club, and served as president and club champion in the 1970s.
Once in El Reno, he joined the VFW and American Legion as a life member. He was VFW Post 382 Post Commander and District 13 Commander in the 1980s, and enjoyed traveling around the state and the country to meetings and conventions. He also became a special deputy sheriff in Canadian County in 1989.
Joseph was a life member and supporter of many organizations including the NRA, 106th Recon, 112 FA, Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Disabled American Veterans.
His many hobbies included flying both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, carpentry and woodworking, target and trap shooting and a reloading workshop, Civil War history and family game night.
He was well known for wearing colorful suspenders and his dry sense of humor.
He is survived by his five children, seven of his eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren, two nephews, three of five nieces, 19 grand-nieces and nephews and three great-grand nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to the John Wayne Cancer Institute.
Services were held Friday, July 26, 2019, in the Benson Memorial Chapel with Chaplain Jeffery Wright officiating. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 29 at the Fort Sill National Cemetery in Elgin with Chaplain Major Craig Ludwig officiating. Services are under the direction of Huber-Benson Funeral Home.