In July 1955, Joseph B. Conner, who now lives in Belen, entered U.S. Navy Boot Camp in San Diego, Calif. He was 19 year old.
Joe’s first naval assignment was on the USS Never Sail, a destroyer escort, followed later by service on carrier USS Forestal.
While in the service, Joe received his general aviation, machinist and electronics training. He served his country until he was 23 years old. After serving, Joe worked for Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., for 27 years.
Retirement meant Joe could spend time on this real-life dream — flying. In 1976, he bought a Cessna 150, flying as often as he could. Once, he flew across America on another one of life’s adventures. Later, he bought a Varga 2150. He and his wife, Marj, would sometimes fly a 100 miles just to buy a hamburger.
Currently, Joe keeps busy in his machine shop where he designs metal art pieces. He gives these to the local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of Valencia County. So well received was his metal art, he made more than 100 “forever flower” and pens for attendees at Blue Star Mother’s of New Mexico at their annual convention. This is his way to honor not only American veterans, but families who stood by them through it all.
Mr. Conner’s creative pursuits did not stop with the intricate and artistic metal works he so loved. He is also a model military plane enthusiast. From his research, he wrote a book titled, “Great Moments in Flying,” based on his knowledge and experiences.
His new hobby is restoring a 1932 Ford Cabriolet hot rod with his grandson.
In addition to his wife, Marj, Joe is the father of John Joseph and Susan Marie.
(Editor’s Note: Each month the Belen Veteran’s Memorial will select one veteran from Valencia County to be honored.)
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