The legendary service of Air Force Colonel Joe Jackson, a VA Puget Sound Health Care System Wall of Heroes 2020 honoree (posthumously), spanned three wars (WWII, Korea and Vietnam). His daughter Bonnie shared some aspects about her father that some may not know.

An auto mechanic by trade, Jackson enlisted in the Army Air Corps in March 1941. Though he started as a plane mechanic, he eventually moved to flying jets, including Air Force U-2 and C-123 aircraft.

He flew more than 100 combat missions in Korea and almost 300 in Vietnam. The latter earned him the Medal of Honor for actions on May 12, 1968, when he helped evacuate Kham Duc while under fire. His medal was presented by President Lyndon B. Johnson at a White House ceremony in 1969.

Collected for food bank for 25 years

Kind, generous, humble, smart and funny are among the many positive things that come to mind when people think of Jackson, who spent every Monday for 25 years collecting food for the Kent food bank. He last read the U.S. Constitution front-to-back was when he was 93, just to ensure he could have educated debates with Bonnie and her brother, David. He completed both his undergraduate and master’s degrees taking night classes.

Four people stand in front of Wall of Heroes

Deputy executive director Dr. Thomas Bundt, Bonnie Jackson, granddaughter Lea Rose Jackson, and chief of staff Dr. Catherine Kaminetzky

He began building an airplane in his basement in the 1970s, something Bonnie compared to the boat Gibbs on the TV show NCIS was building in his basement.

While the pandemic prevented a ceremony last year, Bonnie and others joined Puget Sound’s deputy Executive Director Dr. Tom Bundt for an informal gathering in his honor in November 2021.

Jackson died January 12, 2019.

Army Veteran, 98, remembers those who never got to tell their story

VA Puget Sound also recognized Dr. Duane Hyde, Army Veteran, as a Wall of Heroes 2021 honoree.

“Thank you for considering me worthy to join this auspicious group of real heroes,” said Hyde, 98. “In accepting this honor, I feel like I am a representative of many Vets who performed what they were experienced and trained to do.”

Hyde’s medical school and subsequent 37-year medical practice included the delivery of more than 1,500 babies.

Numerous heroic contributions

His numerous heroic contributions include fighting in the Hartz Mountains in north France during World War II. “Our platoon advanced successfully and took over a German entrenched unit protecting the top of the mountain,” he said. The next morning, on the way to a welcomed hot breakfast, a bombshell exploded, injuring him and two other soldiers.

He was recognized for his service with the Legion of Honor, France’s highest order of merit for military and civil awards.

Thinking of Alsace, France, Hyde recalled the time he sat on the grass at Epinol American Cemetery contemplating the seemingly endless rows of crosses that represent nearly 5,300 fallen American soldiers. “Each of us has a story to tell,” he said. “With teary eyes, I realized these young fallen soldiers, each marked by a cross, never had the opportunity to tell their story.”

The Wall of Heroes serves as a reminder for patients, visitors, staff and volunteers of the sacrifice, valor, bravery and heroism demonstrated by our Puget Sound Veterans. Framed biographic displays of each inductee are symbols honoring Veterans who have made significant contributions to those we serve at VA Puget Sound.

VA Puget Sound provides comprehensive care to more than 155,000 Veterans across the Pacific Northwest. As VA’s 5th largest research program, VA Puget Sound has research in virtually every major clinical department. Additionally, it has seven nationally recognized Centers of Excellence (in areas from limb-loss prevention and prosthetic engineering to primary care education and substance abuse treatment). For more information visit

By Tami Begasse is a public affairs officer for VA Puget Sound

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Published on Jan. 8, 2022

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