Joseph Moss uses the word "fortunate" a lot. He says it when talking about his parents and how they raised him on a cattle farm in Canton to know the value of hard work and integrity. He chooses the word when talking about his wife, Ashley, and two daughters, and when describing his job as a mid-Mississippi division president at BancorpSouth.
Moss is, in many ways, the stereotypical southern man—clean-cut, respectful and Christian. He loves to hunt and fish. Every night, his family sits down together for dinner.
"No TV, no electronics," Moss says. "We talk about the day and get our children to talk to us about what's going on at school and talk about who their friends are and what they're doing, the challenges they face at this age and the fun things they are doing."
He's also a military man, having served in the Air National Guard for 27 years. "One of the greatest opportunities in my life and my career is to be a member of the Mississippi Air National Guard," he says. "(It gave me) the opportunity to work with some outstanding individuals. The men and women of the 172nd are truly heroes. The men and women that serve the department of defense and the other divisions—anybody that wears a military uniform, I have the utmost respect for."
Moss calls the 172nd, which has its base in Flowood, "unfortunately, one of the greatest-kept secrets in the tri-county area." He says he wishes more people knew about the guard and what it does for the Jackson community.
For the last several years, the division's primary missions have involved flying a medevac out of Afghanistan and Iraq. The guard flies cargo downrange, then flies patients back out.
"To be a small part of the team that completed so many successful missions in returning people home," Moss says, "I wish everybody could see what I've seen." Moss retired last year as the Command Chief Master Sergeant.
Moss got his work ethic from his parents and lessons learned on the cattle farm. "I was taught about hard work and the rewards that come with it, integrity, how to treat everyone equal. ... I rely on the skills (my father) taught me on that small farm every day," he says.
And Moss wants to pass on those lessons to his own kids, too. "Nothing is more important to me than my children," he says. "Trying to teach them to constantly grow, that you've got to focus on education."
He also shares with his daughters how important the military has been to him.
"As I was coaching my daughter's soccer team, the (military medevac) plane flew over head," he recalls. "I asked them, 'What do you see?' They said it was a big plane. I said, 'That's not what I see. I see freedom.'"
Around Jackson and the metro area, Moss is also involved with the Salvation Army, United Way and Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, sharing his good fortune with the community.