Joseph Hendricks was born on March 19, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on December 3, 1984, and completed basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, in February 1985. Hendricks next completed Basic Electricity and Electronics School at NTC Great Lakes in May 1985, and Gunners Mate A School at Great Lakes in July 1985. He then attended the Basic Scuba Course at Panama City, Florida, from November to December 1985, followed by the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Assistant Course at Indian Head, Maryland, from February to March 1986. His first assignment was with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group ONE (EODG-1) at Subic Bay in the Philippines from March 1986 to April 1988, and then at the Naval Special Warfare Center at NAB Coronado, California, from May 1988 until he left active duty on December 1, 1988. Petty Officer Hendricks served in the Navy Reserve with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit NINE (EODMU-9) at Mare Island, California, from December 1988 until he returned to active duty in the Navy on April 7, 1990. He next attended EOD Diver Training Phase I at Panama City from May to July 1990, followed by EOD Assistant training at Eglin AFB, Florida, from August to October 1990. Petty Officer Hendricks then transferred to Indian Head, Maryland, and attended the Navy EOD Basic Course there from February to September 1991, and the MK-16 Course from August to September 1991. He served with EODMU-8 at Sgonella, Italy, from December 1990 to October 1993, and then with EODMU-5 in Bahrain from October 1993 until he was killed in a diving accident off the coast of Saudi Arabia on July 11, 1995. During this time, Chief Petty Officer Hendricks participated in numerous deployments around Europe and to the Middle East. Joseph Hendricks was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Meritorious Service Medal Citation reads:
For outstanding meritorious service as a Member of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit FIVE, Detachment Bahrain deployed with United States Naval Forces Central Command from October 1993 to July 1995 in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, VIGILANT WARRIOR, UNITED SHIELD and RESTORE HOPE. Chief Hendricks displayed uncommon professionalism, exceptional leadership and superior management ability during seven Naval Forces Central Command Explosive Ordnance Disposal exercises. Exhibiting exemplary skill and courage, his repeated dives in hazardous waters directly contributed to the delivery of M1A1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles to United States forces in support of the United Nations mission in Somalia. A consummate diplomat, he provided outstanding hands-on training to Eritrean Forces in all aspects of ordnance operations during 47 dives to recover 94,000 pounds of ordnance from a sunken vessel. His outstanding performance of duty directly contributed to beneficial relations and bolstered United States confidence among independent governments of the strategically important Gulf Region. By his exceptional professional ability, personal initiative and total dedication to duty, Chief Hendricks reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.