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Joseph H. Hairston
HAIRSTON JOSEPH H. HAIRSTON Joseph passed away in his sleep at age 97, on December 23, 2019, from congestive heart failure, after a long illness. A detailed biography of his life can be found in Metro Section of the Washington Post in the coming days. Born in a log cabin in 1922 in Axton, Virginia, Joseph survived as the only son of Julia and James Hairston, a coal miner. After his mother's death, [at age 10] and his stepfather's death [at age 12], Joseph raised himself and his half-brother Charles in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He joined the US Army in 1940 and served as a medic, artilleryman, fixed wing artillery spotter pilot, helicopter pilot, and ROTC instructor over a 20-year career of service in the US, Japan and Korea, rising to the rank of Captain. At age 80, he discovered Pentagon records that confirmed he was America's first Black US Army helicopter pilot. Civilian service began in 1960 with career paths that included the Labor Department and the IRS where he became the first Black senior lawyer in the Office of the Chief Counsel. While there, he received an award for suggesting that taxpayers use computers to file taxes.
His third career included serving as a parliamentarian and he did so well into his 90's. His commitment to service and giving back to others included membership on the boards of the Washington and National Bar Associations, the Washington Gas and Pepco boards, the Baptist Home, Neighbors Incorporated, the Hairston Clan and Takoma Park Baptist Church. In the spirit of lifelong commitment to service, he donated his body to the USUHS: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, dedicated to treating those who fall in harm's way. His remains will serve to teach over 400 students in the coming months as they train to become military doctors. He is survived by his brother Charles, Anna, his wife of 78 years, daughters Naomi, JoAnn and Victoria and grandchildren Diedra, Dawn Ann, Nora, Jeffrey and Kaitlyn. Hundreds of people call Joe Henry "friend/mentor" for his ability to make everyone feel they were special in his eyes. Joseph was burried at Arlington Cemetery.