Lt.Col. Long was born in Ashe County, NC on July 22nd, 1925, the 11th child of George and Flora Long. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, Joe joined the Army Air Corp, volunteering for pilot training. He was diverted to gunnery school and served on B24 aircraft until 1946. After the war, Joe entered the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1950 with a BS in Commerce and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the United States Air Force. Upon graduation, Joe entered pilot training. He served 14 years with the Strategic Air Command (SAC), flying B29’s on reconnaissance missions during the Korean War. He served as an instructor at SAC with his experience in B29, B47, B50, and B52 aircraft. While assigned to Lowry Air Force Base, he earned a master’s degree in Industrial Management from the University of Colorado in 1963. In 1967, he volunteered for Vietnam serving as a forward air controller. Upon returning, he was assigned to the Military Airlift Command and flew the C141 in support of the war. Between 1968 and 1972 he flew hundreds of troop support missions over to Vietnam and Air Evac missions back to the United States. For his last mission, he was designated to transport 65 senior ambassadors to Ethiopia for a UN meeting. He finished his career with a 2-year assignment with the Joint Military Assistance Group where they helped modernize the Korean Military Forces. He served a total of 35 years and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 8 Air Medals, 1 Joint Service Commendation Medal and 2 Air Force Commendation Medals. Shortly after retiring in 1978, he was part of a large group to work on assistance to the Shah of Iran to shape a modern military force.
After retiring, he served many volunteer hours with the Military Officers Association of America, Federal Retiree Task Force, the 4th Branch and his local MOAA chapter. He also worked with the Red Cross on their emergency notification system for active military. He never stopped serving!
Joe married Martha Price in 1946 and they became parents to Pattie. Martha passed away after a lengthy illness after 54 years of marriage. In 2003, he and Joan Freeman Shaw were married. Their blended family includes 5 children,10 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Joe and Joan reside at Searstone Community in Cary, NC.