Joe Noah was born on March 1, 1928, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He soloed in a J-3 Cub in August 1944, and joined the U.S. Merchant Marines on June 12, 1945. Noah left the Maritime Service on August 28, 1945, due to World War II ending, and then attended college for a year at North Carolina State College before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 30, 1946. CPL Noah served as a rifleman and fire fighter before leaving active duty on August 13, 1948. He then completed his degree at North Carolina State, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the school's Air Force ROTC program on June 10, 1951. Lt Noah served as an engineering officer on C-82 Packet transports with the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron at Donaldson AFB, South Carolina, from June 1951 to March 1952, and then based near San Angelo, Texas, for Operation Longhorn, from March to April 1952. His next assignment was as a C-119 Flying Boxcar engineering officer with the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron at Ashiya AB, Japan, from June 1952 to January 1954, during which time he participated in missions during both the Korean War and the First Indochina War in Vietnam. Capt Noah then completed an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to Stanford University, where he earned his Master's degree in June 1955. His final active duty assignment was at Griffiss AFB, New York, where he served as a Procurement Staff Officer at the Rome Air Force Depot until joining the Air Force Reserve on June 9, 1958. Maj Noah received an honorable discharge from the Air Force Reserve on May 10, 1967. After leaving active duty, Joe worked for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, from 1958 to 1963, and then with other corporations doing the same work until 1970. He then ran his own company for another 13 years. Joe and his wife Betty founded the Preddy Memorial Foundation which helps to honor his cousins George and Bill Preddy, World War II fighter pilots that lost their lives in combat over Europe.
His Army Commendation Medal Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Joseph W. Noah distinguished himself by performing meritorious service as Assistant Maintenance Officer in the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron (Medium), 483d Troop Carrier Wing (Medium) from 10 August 1952 to 26 July 1953. Lieutenant Noah has demonstrated outstanding leadership as an officer by his superior supervision and his outstanding example of loyalty to his supervisors. Lieutenant Noah distinguished himself by planning and effecting an on-the-job training program for his squadron which resulted in doubling the efficiency of this organization in the last six months. In May 1953, Lieutenant Noah again proved himself an outstanding leader by developing and perfecting an engine conditioning program which reduced engine malfunction and reduced man-hours lost on these malfunctions. In June 1953, he distinguished himself and his organization by his superior supervision under adverse flood conditions in that he was able to lead the personnel under his control to a height of maintenance accomplishment never reached by any organization of this type. Again in July 1953, Lieutenant Noah was able to maintain this high efficiency level. For his untiring devotion to duty, loyalty, initiative, and outstanding accomplishments, First Lieutenant Joseph W. Noah has brought great credit to himself, his organization, and the United States Air Force.