Up until 1973, Joe Shriber flew hundreds of harrowing missions for the United State Air Force and he can tell you about almost everyone of them. Now, after his active service, the Folsom native continues to serve, educating the community as a volunteer at the Aerospace Museum of California. It’s Shriber’s dedication to service that has earned him his most recent honor.

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Shriber was recently honored for his military and community service by the national Veterans of Foreign Wars #Still Serving Campaign. The campaign recognizes veterans who continue to serve their community after completion of their active military service. 

Every day, men and women who have once dedicated years of their life to military service continue to serve in ways outside of the military, often right in the community in which they reside. The Still Serving Campaign strives to showcase and honor those who, “exemplify the best of the American Spirit,”as the organization says.

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By all means, Shriber is one such individual. His military resume is a decorated one. Therafter, his love of educating the community about the field he succeeded in and loved so much is just as impressive. However, don’t look for Shriber to brag too much. He remains as humble as they come. 

“I really did not need to be honored,” Shriber said in response to the media attention following last week’s honor. Today, he is serving as a docent at the Aerospace Museum at McClellan Air Force Base, giving tours of its historical aircraft and military equipment. “I wasn’t looking for any recognition but it’s nice to be recognized.”

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The equipment that Shriber now teaches others about is all something he he knows a thing or two about. After joining the military in 1966, Shriber flew a total of 313 missions with the Air Force. 193 of those missions were over North Vietnam. Spanning two combat tours plus Linebacker II, and flying an F-105 “Thud” for 112 missions, he transitioned to a F-4 “Phantom II” fighter jet for the remaining 201 missions of his flying career. 

It was just after graduating from Utah State University and ROTC in June of 1966 that Shriber joined the Air Force and entered flight training, according to his career bio by GoldenGateWing.org. He ended up in jet fighters and what was known at the Wild Weasel Program. After all the training and combat flying for 9 years with assignments in Korat, Thailand; Kadena, Okinawa; Stuttgart, Germany; Mather AFB; Nellis AFB; Davis Monthan AFB and others. 

Shriber remained on active duty for another 3 years. He then resigned his commission as a Captain and began his career as a Project Manager with Lockheed (Martin) Space Systems in Sunnyvale. That same year, 1979, he joined the Air Force Reserve through the Intelligence Service at Travis AFB until 1983 when a reserve unit was established at the Sunnyvale Air Force Station which was later named Onizuka Air Force Base. There he served as Operations Officer until 1987 and served as Commander from 1988 to 1991. Shriber didn’t stop there, then served on active duty assignments with the Pentagon and on active duty support of Operation Eldorado Canyon in April 1986 where the attack on Col. M. Khadafy largely was Shriber’s detailed plan, he also served on the Falkland Island crisis.

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Upon promotion to Colonel, Joe’s active-duty assignment switched to the Headquarters of the Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii. He was recalled to active duty in August 1990 for Operation Desert Shield and again in February 1991 for Operation Desert Storm. The number of successful missions completed by Shriber, plus the many noteworthy positions he has held through the ranks, give him plenty of adventures to share with anyone who asks, he is truly one the area’s most fascinating Veterans, known to many. 

In addition to serving at the Aerospace Museum, Shriber gives his time in many aways across the community. His philanthropic efforts include volunteers at local high schools right here in the city he calls home, where he offers scholarship opportunities. Volunteering at the Mather Veteran Administrative Hospital is another place you can find him on a regular basis, providing wheelchair and medical application assistance to serve his fellow Veterans in need.

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Getting back to that humble trait that Shriber exemplifies, he doesn’t give back to the community for any type of recognition. He said he considers serving veterans and the community like her does as, “a privilege.”

About the VFW #Still Serving Program

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) launched #StillServing, a campaign to highlight the many ways America’s veterans continue to serve in their local communities after transitioning from the military, in February 2020. What started as an awareness campaign has become a social movement as veterans across the country continue to step up to share stories of how they are still serving. More than 1,000 veterans’ stories have been shared through news coverage, website features and magazine and newsletter articles. 

“Our original intent here was to recognize and showcase the important ongoing service of the lifeblood of our organization – our members, but the campaign quickly took hold and expanded well beyond the confines of our membership to veterans and advocates around the world,” said Tim Borland, VFW commander-in-chief. “The participation and interest this campaign has garnered has exceeded all expectations, and it continues to gain momentum.” 

According to the 2021 Veterans Civic Health Index1, veterans average nearly 30 percent more volunteer hours per year and outpace civilians 15 percent in charitable donations. Additionally, nearly 40 percent more veterans belong to a group working on community issues and veterans are more like to be registered to vote (7 percent) and have recently voted (6 percent). 

Since its launch, more than 2 million people have engaged with the campaign and it has gained the attention of individuals worldwide, recently earning a Grand Award at the 19th International Business Association for the highest marks of more than 3,700 nominations to the business awards. 

Building on a legacy of service that spans more than a century, #StillServing represents the heart of the VFW and its members, and conveys what today’s VFW embodies. The VFW encourages all veterans to share stories on social media using #StillServing to show how they continue to answer the call to serve in ways big and small. In addition, family or friends are asked to use #StillServing in social media posts to honor a veteran in their lives who believes the spirit of service transcends military life. 

The VFW urges Americans to visit vfw.org/StillServing to learn more about the campaign, make a shareable image honoring veterans in their lives, watch videos of VFW members making a difference and see a collection of user-generated content. 

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan