A 1964 graduate of Buchser, Joe was best known as a nationally ranked miler on the track team. After a year of junior college Joe enlisted in the Marine Corps and eventually became a member of Marine Force Recon.
On September 19, 1968 while operating in Quang Tri province Joe’s unit came under enemy fire. After the initial fire one of his men failed to respond to a prearranged signal indicating that he was unharmed. Fearing that his Marine was wounded and in need of help, Joe left his position and was wounded while attempting to reach his man who was actually not wounded, but failed to respond so as not to give his location away. Joe’s wound turned out to be fatal. The following is the citation for Joe’s Silver Star (the third highest award for valor in combat).
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant Joseph F. Biber (MCSN: 2198273), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company E, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 19 September 1968. Sergeant Biber was leading a five-man reconnaissance patrol through enemy-patrolled territory south of the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri Province. As the point man rounded a curve in the trail, he encountered a North Vietnamese soldier and, upon killing the man, immediately came under intense automatic weapons fire from his left flank. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Sergeant Biber fearlessly rushed forward and directed the delivery of suppressive fire against the hostile positions. Although seriously wounded, he calmly supervised the establishment of a defensive perimeter around a proposed landing zone and directed the radio operator to request an evacuation helicopter. Disregarding his painful wounds, he resolutely continued to supervise his unit’s efforts and, after ensuring the welfare of his men, was embarked aboard the medical evacuation helicopter where he succumbed to his wounds. By his courage, aggressive leadership and unwavering devotion to duty, Sergeant Biber inspired all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Home of Record: Lompoc, CA
Date of Birth: 06/29/1946
Service Branch: United States Marine Corps
Grade at loss: E5
MOS: 0311: Rifleman
Length Service: 2 years
Unit: Echo Co, 3rd Recon Bn, 3rd MarDiv, III MAF
Start Tour: 05/05/1968
Incident Date: 09/19/1968
Casualty Date: 09/19/1968
Age at Loss: 22
Location: Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body Recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
Casualty Reason: Ground Casualty
Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire
On The Wall: Panel W43 Line 33