Joe Lafayette Pitt was born in Decatur, Alabama on 31 December 1928. He enlisted in the US Army in 1944 and fought in northern Africa and the European Theater. During his combat action, Private Pitt was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star. Sergeant Pitt then fought in the Korean War. In 1968, Sergeant Major Joe Pitt was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. On 21 September 1968, Sergeant Major Pitt's unit was making a combat assault near Plei Mrong in the Central Highlands, when the command and control helicopter in which he and the battalion commander were flying was shot down by enemy fire. Although seriously wounded, he was able to pull the officer to safety and under fire from both the enemy and buring ammunition from his own craft, he returned to pull the Liaison Officer to safety. His courage and selflessness in the face of enemy fire saved the lives of two comrades. For his gallantry in action on this date, Sergeant Major Joe Pitt was awarded the nation's third highest valor medal, the Silver Star.
On 1 May 1969, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry was conducting a search and cordon operation near Plei Mrong when they were engaged by an unknown size enemy force. Sergeant Major Pitt, who was directing artillery and air support from the command and control helicopter, made repeated low passes over the combat area until he was severely wounded by a gunshot wound to his heard. For his gallantry in action on this date, Sergeant Major Joe Pitt was again awarded the nation's third highest valor medal, the Silver Star.
CSM Joe Pitt was serving as Command Sergeant Major of the School Brigade, U.S. Army Missile and Munitions Center and School, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama when he retired in 1977.