Joseph B. Colton graduated with the highest honors from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1960. An expert marksman, he was recruited by Special Forces, and later became a Green Beret. During service overseas, he participated in numerous combat operations, but saw minimal acknowledgment, as his missions were "ultra" classified. In 1963, he was appointed by then-President John F. Kennedy to create and command an "ULTIMATE freedom fighting force." It was at this time that he received the code name G.I. Joe.
He later "retired" from active military duty, and was placed as the head of a secret Strategic Defense Initiative installation in New York City. There he served with the lead scientist, G.I. Jane, who originally maintained cover as a combat nurse.