Home » » Tales From the Greatest Generation: A Profile of Mr. Joseph "Uncle Joe" Salomon

Tales From the Greatest Generation: A Profile of Mr. Joseph "Uncle Joe" Salomon

Written By Editor on 3/19/17 | 3/19/17

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in our February 17th print edition. He now needs help replacing his well pump. Consider donating to his GoFundMe account here.

By Timothy Knight

Joseph “Uncle Joe” Salomon’s ninety years have been kind to the Middleburgh resident, a humorous and spry Navy Veteran whose wisdom and advice spans the generations from the Great Depression to modern America. A man of deep faith that got him through many tough times.



Born in the twenties in New York City and raised in western Virginia, Uncle Joe epitomizes the endearing optimism of the so-called greatest generation that endured the worst economic depression in the nation’s history, before fighting a war on two fronts against German fascism and Japanese imperialism.

Uncle Joe was in the midst of it all, first as a boy forced to leave school in order to help provide for his family and second, as a young enlistee at the tail end of World War Two. Told by his father that, “If you join the Army, I’ll kick your butt!” Uncle Joe became a U.S. Navy Sailor like his father before him.

Sailor Joe

A prolific jokester with an irresistible laugh, Uncle Joe is humble about his time as Airman First Class. “I went where I was sent. I didn’t do anything special,” commented Mr. Saloman.

However, Salomon’s humility spoke volumes as he recounted stories from his life while wearing a World War Two Victory Medal on his chest. Serving in both active and inactive duty from 1945-1950, Uncle Joe was deployed as both on a minesweeper and in search and rescue during his time in uniform.

Although his ship never came in contact with enemy vessels, Uncle Joe’s crew narrowly escaped a brush with death when a torpedo almost struck their ship.

Explaining that the ship’s bosun gave him leave to sleep in after pulling double watch, Uncle Joe said that he was awoken by the screaming and yelling of his comrades on deck in his sleeping quarters. After asking what had happened, his shipmates informed him that a torpedo passed beneath the ship while he was asleep.

Post-Navy Life

Close calls aside, Mr. Salomon worked in the aircraft industry for over 20 years upon leaving the military. Working in various positions throughout the industry, including on the assembly line and some limited piloting,
Uncle Joe spent those years with his beloved wife Elizabeth. Married for 38 years until her death in 1990, Betty lost her eyesight in the 70s from diabetic retinitis, and passed away from lung cancer; April the 18th 1990. "That was the Lowest point in my life. I never missed a day without saying I love you 5 or 10 times a day," says Joe, smiling sadly.

Uncle Joe described Elizabeth as a “gentle, sweet lady.” Asked what his secret to success was, Uncle Joe; said that before they married he told his wife, “You and I are never going to argue;” a promise that was kept for almost four decades.

Now in his ninety-first year, Uncle Joe attributed his long life to neither smoking nor excessively consuming alcohol. A heart attack survivor, Uncle Joe exercises daily to keep himself healthy and active, He said “ I shimmy & I shake, and I shake & I shimmy! And I suck in oxygen! Lots of oxygen!" He replied laughing. He added “look at my hands, do you see any swollen fingers or signs of arthritis? I have no aches or pains ever."

Unerringly optimistic and always ready to interject a side of humor into the conversation, Uncle Joe and the 620,000 surviving U.S. veterans of World War Two are but a fraction of those who wore the uniform during one of America’s most difficult times as a nation. Although their lives are finite, the character and spirit of Uncle Joe and his compatriots will never be extinguished from the fabric of the American spirit. We here at The Mountain Eagle are forever grateful.

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