Joseph O. Kahoe, Jr. was born on March 4, 1917, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the son of the late Bertha and Joseph O. Kahoe, Sr. At an early age, he was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church and later received his confirmation. He began his education in New Orleans and moved along with his family to Chicago, Illinois where he graduated from high school.
At the age of 18, Joe enlisted in the United States Army. His first duty as a private was grooming horses at $21.00 a month. In 1939, while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, he met Laura Luckett. They were married and their union was blessed with one child, Gayle. After a six year tour of duty in the Cavalry, Joe received an honorable discharge from the enlisted ranks of the Army.
Then, in 1942, the Army offered Joe an opportunity to reunite with the military through Officers Candidate School (OCS). He accepted the offer and was subsequently commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He went on to serve his country proudly, being decorated numerous times for his valiant efforts during World War II. Joe was assigned to the 761st Tank Battalion (the first Black tank division to see battle in the War) and was awarded the Purple Heart as a result of wounds received in the Battle of the Bulge. The list of commendations grew over the next 20 years, while rising to the rank of Major. Joe retired from the Army in 1962. He continued to serve his country in the private sector, mainly by advocating and working with community programs which fostered the betterment of people of color.
In 1973, Joe, a widower, married the former Cynthia Hill. From this union was born one son, Joseph O. Kahoe, III. He remained active in and around the Alexandria, Virginia area where he settled, as well as with several military organizations. A proud veteran, he regularly attended the annual reunions of his beloved 761st Tank Battalion. He served the city of Alexandria for over fifty years through his participation in such community oriented organizations as: the NAACP Alexandria Branch (where he was a life member), the Hopkins House Association (where he was a loan officer) and the Departmental Progressive Club (where he held various positions.) He was also a member of American Legion Post #129 and, on a National level, he served with the Catholic Charities and the President' Council on Aging.
Major Kahoe received many awards for his civic involvement and was most proud of being recognized during a 50th Anniversary celebration of World War II. He represented Black soldiers during a tribute to the integral part they played in the War and was an honored guest of President Clinton at an event held in the White House Rose Garden. On another occasion, Major Kahoe accompanied President Clinton to Arlington National Cemetery during a wreath laying ceremony which commemorated World War II veterans. He was the subject of a feature article in the Style section of the Washington Post in 1996, where he highlighted his experiences as a soldier in the War. He was also featured in a documentary which has become a part of the National Archives. The film is now shown to school children worldwide and educates them on the roles that African Americans played in World War II.
On Friday, April 17, 1998, after a brief illness, Joseph O. Kahoe, Jr., an officer and a gentlman, departed this life quietly from the INOVA Alexandria Hospital. He leaves to mourn their loss and cherish fond memories: a daughter, Gayle Kahoe; a son, Joseph O. Kahoe, III; a step-daughter, Adrienne Hill Puryear; one grandson, Bennie McRae; three devoted sisters-in-law, Mary Martin and Marian Hill of Alexandria, VA and Vivian Hill of Laurel, MD; one brother-in-law, Carlton Hughes of Warrenton, VA: three cousins, Elvira Johnson and Marguerite Russell of New Orleans, LA and Agnes Workman of Chicago, IL; four very devoted friends, Mr. Louis Harris, Sr., Mr. Nelson Greene, Sr., Mr. Lawrence Day and Mr. Ferdinand Day and a host of other loving relatives and friends.