Joseph S. Stringham is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1961. Upon graduation he received a BS degree in Engineering and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
In his more than 32 years of military service, Stringham commanded at every echelon from rifle platoon through brigade. This included command of the 75th Ranger Regiment; three US Army Infantry Battalions, including the 1st Ranger Battalion; and the US Military Group in El Salvador at a pivotal point in the war in that country.
His ability to lead from the front became obvious with his first active duty assignment in Korea as XO of the 7th Infantry Division Long Range Patrol Detachment, then as a rifle company commander in 17th Infantry Battle Group. His final command, almost three decades later, would be the gem of his military ambition, Commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
During 32 years of active duty, BG Stringham is credited with 42 months of close combat duty beginning in 1963-1965 with the Special Forces in Vietnam, then again in Vietnam during 1967-1968 as Company Commander and Battalion S3 in the 31st Infantry Battalion of the Americal Division, and finally, Commander of the U.S. Military Group in El Salvador during the critical phase of the insurgency. Between Vietnam and El Salvador, and in the rank of MAJ and LTC, Stringham commanded three infantry battalions, culminating with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. During this command, he was nicknamed, “Smokin’ Joe,” a name that fit him well then, as it certainly does now.
Brigadier General Stringham served at the highest levels of the US Army staff in the Pentagon and as the Senior Military Attaché in the US Embassies in Brazil and Mexico. In the latter, he was the focal point for directing Department of Defense activities associated with the counter-narcotics interdiction effort in these regions. Over half of his military service was in overseas theaters ranging from East- and SE Asia to the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. He retired from active duty in November 1992.
BG Stringham is an Airborne Ranger Infantryman who, as a Green Beret, organized, trained, and led in combat the first MIKE Force unit (an indigenous rapid-reaction force unit) in Vietnam. The MIKE Force became legendary in US Army Vietnam lore and was featured in the John Wayne movie, The Green Berets.
Medals and Awards
The list of General Stringham’s awards complements his service as a both a leader and warrior. He holds two DSM’s, four LOM’s, and seven combat awards for valor, to include the Silver Star Medal. He also holds six foreign medals and awards, including El Salvador’s Medalla de Oro (Gold Medal), and foreign parachutist wings from seven allied nations.
Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1961
Vietnam War (1960 – 1973)
In 1995, he was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Special Forces Hall of Fame.