May 2019: Joseph Leno Malone
US Navy 1950-1956
Joseph Leno Malone was born on July 27, 1933, in the Mt. Carmel area of Tipton County and grew up on a dairy farm. While still in high school, he felt the need to serve his country; he joined the Navy Reserves, where he served from 1950 to 1953. When he transferred to active duty on January 24, 1953, his mother cried because she was afraid he would get shot.
During his time in the Navy, he was an Airman; his duties included taking care of the airplanes and performing rigorous preflight inspections. He was assigned to the USS Coral Sea (CV -43) as a Plane Captain where he was part of the Strike Fighter Squadron 11 (VFA 11), more affectionately known as the “Red Rippers”. Homeported at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, they traveled to numerous ports, spending a month in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the Straits of Gibraltar; Naples, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and the Holy Land. His month in Cuba was punctuated with the fact that Marines with dogs patrolled the fences. One of his most vivid memories is also one of the scariest. While he and his pilot were traveling at altitude over Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, the plane’s engine failed because of a vapor lock. Frantically he and his pilot jointly worked to correct the problem. Once his pilot was able to pull back on the throttle, the problem was corrected, and they landed safely. Joseph is very proud of the fact that he always followed the rules and regulations of the Navy and was never disciplined for poor behavior or performance. He was honorably discharged on January 13, 1956. For his service to our country, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.
He returned home after the Navy to work on the family farm, which also included raising beans, corn, and cotton. He met the love of his life, Betty, a schoolteacher; and they married on April 19, 1952. In 1957 he and Betty built their home on the family farm in Tipton County, where they raised their children, a daughter Melanie and a son Brett. Melanie lives nearby in Burlison; but sadly son Brett, who lived on an adjoining farm, died in 2018 from cancer. Joe and Betty have four grandchildren: one lives in Memphis, and the other three live in Tipton County. Joe and Betty are members of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Covington where Joe has served as a Deacon for more than 60 years.
Joe was nominated for Veteran of the Month at the Tipton County Museum by his good friend H.T. Ray, who was Veteran of the Month in August of 2017.