Joseph Denis Pilon passed away on 29 July 2020 at the age of 80. Joe (Denis to most of his family) was born 29 February 1940, the third of fifteen children born to Joseph Thaddeus and Antoinette Bezaire Pilon. Joe was born and raised in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. Joe left high school early and would later complete his GED while in the U.S. Army.
As a boy Joe dreamed of becoming a paratrooper, and as a dual Canadian/U.S. citizen, joined the U.S. Army in 1961 as an Infantryman. He attended jump school and was then assigned to the elite 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During this tour he met his first wife and they had the first two of three children. This was followed by an assignment to the Panama Canal Zone but as a professional warrior he volunteered to serve in Vietnam. Joe served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1972, nearly six years. He returned stateside during this time and a third child was born. While in Vietnam Joe spent the majority of his time assigned to the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). He was most proud of his service on Team 1-62 ”Red Hats” as an American Advisor to the elite Vietnamese Airborne and kept in close contact with his teammates from this unit until his passing. Joe also served as an American Advisor to the Vietnamese Rangers and one year advising a Provincial Reconnaissance Unit. Joe spent the majority of his time in Vietnam advising units in the field conducting combat operations. He saw combat in all four of the Corps Tactical Zones and Special Tactical Zone around Saigon. Returning from Vietnam Joe was assigned as a Black Hat Instructor on the Jump Committee at the Army Airborne School. From there, he went to become the Senior Enlisted Instructor at Western Michigan University ROTC, Kalamazoo, MI. Not to be away from a combat unit too long, Joe sought a different assignment and was sent to 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry in Fort Richardson, Alaska. On his arrival he was selected to be the First Sergeant of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the largest most complex unit in the Battalion. It was a job where he excelled. His final military assignment was as Brigade Operations Sergeant Major in the 1st Infantry Division. Joe retired in 1981 but was recalled to active during Desert Shield/Desert Storm to be the Escort Detachment First Sergeant, Fort Meade, MD. This was an exceptionally important assignment as his soldiers were responsible for escorting the remains of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedom on their final trip home to their families.
Joe married his second wife Colonel (retired) Carol D. Clair in 1981 (at the time a Second Lieutenant). Joe became a military spouse and supported Carol on her assignments throughout her twenty-six year plus career. Not one to be idle Joe sought out challenging work wherever he went. While Carol was at Fort Eustis, Virginia he became a standout selling cars becoming Salesman of the Year at Hampton Chevrolet, Hampton Virginia and Chevrolet Legion of Leaders. Joe was so accomplished as a salesman that other owners sought him out and he was offered Sales Manager at Crutchman Motor Corporation in Newport News, Virginia. Moving to Fort Lewis, Joe started his own business in auto detailing and undercoating but liquidated it on Carol’s next assignment. Relocating to Northern Virginia, Joe was hired as a foreman for Hemby Construction due to his leadership skills. There he learned a multitude of skills in the construction trades from its owner. From there, Joe took a break while Carol was assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to attend important military education courses. He enjoyed some down time but kept working by taking care of Carol and her friends while they attended class. Carol was sent on an overseas tour to Korea and Joe went back to Northern Virginia. There he was hired as a Vault Manager for Wells Fargo. One day while conducting armored truck money pick-ups he stopped to help at an accident and was tragically hit by a car and nearly died. This ended Joe’s ability to work outside the home. Recovery took several years. Joe continued to support Carol as she was assigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia and later Fort Lee, Virginia. Joe had major neck surgery in Savannah, Georgia. It was during his recovery that he became interested in the stock market. Joe took his interest to the next level and transitioned to a full time personal stock investor in 1998. He maintained his interest in the market until his passing. After twenty-six years of service Carol retired in 2007 and Joe’s time as a supportive military spouse ended. Joe and Carol moved to Corpus Christi to spend their retirement years in the warm weather of south Texas.
Joe will always be remembered as a true warrior and trusted friend to his Vietnam War buddies. To his family, other friends, employers and acquaintances, he was a jokester, a loyal and dedicated worker, and someone you could count on. As a husband to his wife of thirty-nine and half years, he was faithful, committed, and loving even in the toughest circumstances.
During his military career Joe was recognized in peacetime and war with numerous Awards and Decorations. These include: the Silver Star, the Bronze Star w/V for Valor and four Oak Leaf Clusters, a Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Good Conduct Medal (5th Award), the National Defense Service Medal (2d Award), the Overseas Service Ribbon w/Numeral 2, the Vietnam Service Medal with 13 service stars, the Army Service Ribbon, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Silver Star and one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Republic of Vietnam Forces Honor Medal Second Class, the Republic of Vietnam Training Medal (Second Class), the Republic of Vietnam Parachute Master Badge, the Republic of Vietnam Ranger Badge, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Master Parachute Badge.
Joseph Denis Pilon is preceded in death by: Joseph Thaddeus Pilon (Father), Antoinette Bezaire Pilon (Mother) and Brothers Terry (Cindy) Pilon and Jack (Katrina) Pilon.
Left to cherish his memories are his children: Denis Michael Pilon, Lea Antoinette Dupon and Lyne Marie Pilon,; his grandchildren: Joelene, Matthew, Sandy, Laura, Sarah, Nicholas,Delaney, Nichole, Justin and Jeffrey; 11 great - grandchildren; siblings: Daniel (Rose) Pilon, Patricia (Buck) Meloche, Virginia (Jim) Deneau, Lenore Amlin, Martha Madill (Ray) Festino, James Pilon, Charles (Lynda) Pilon, Michael (Cathy) Pilon, Ted (Karen) Pilon, Paul Pilon, Jerry Pilon and Joseph (Marty) Pilon; numerous nieces and nephews especially those having lived or currently living in the Corpus Christi, Texas region: Glenn (MaryBeth) Pilon, Greg (Ylanda) Pilon, Josh (Carole) Fleming, Kristen (Patrick) O’Brien, Jackie (Chris) Garis, and Brittany (Josh) Rooker and their children.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, August 10, 2020 at Seaside Funeral Home Chapel.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mr Joseph Denis Pilon, please visit our floral store.