From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
While his unit was on patrol for a missing airman in South Korea, Lt. Sam Ireland discovered a rocket of non-human make, with a child inside. The child appeared completely human, save for a strange metal rod in the rocket that was covered in characters that resembled none of the characters in any of the languages Lt. Ireland was familiar with. In addition, the child was wearing what appeared to be red and black tights sized for a toddler.
Basic human decency took precedence over standard orders for finding a child in a warzone, and he arranged for the infant to be transported back to the United States through friends made in both Korea and San Francisco. The child, which he named after his father and for the Hebraic leader who was found by the Pharaoh of Egypt, was sent to live with his parents in Rhode Island. A note accompanying the baby asked Lt. Ireland's wife, Renee, to say the baby was her nephew.
When he finished his tour in Korea, Lt. Ireland returned home to tragedy. His wife had developed cancer and was dying. Renee had spent barely three months with the child she had always wanted. Lt. Ireland never remarried, but raised his adopted son as best he could with assistance from the child's new grandparents. Joseph Ireland grew to adulthood, and upon entering college, joined the United States Marine Corps. Due to the powers he developed as he grew, he was told that he was likely a mutant, and would serve with a special unit composed of similar individuals.
Service in the Marine Corps
Lt. Joseph Ireland served admirably in Vietnam, and was responsible for numerous rescues. Because of his powers, he was able to subdue his targets without killing them. While others freely went "weapons hot" against enemy soldiers, Joe would swoop in, endure the small arms fire, and disarm threats. During one of these missions, he came into contact with Suon Lei, called "the Resplendent Crane", and formed a lifelong friendship with the Hmong mutant. When hostilities were ended in Vietnam, Joe sponsored his friend's citizenship.
Once back on American soil, Joseph was sent to Rhode Island, where he acted as a recruiter for the Marine Corps, as well as serving as a liaison between the newly formed FBSA and the Marine Corps. He had been promoted to the rank of Major, and there his career stalled. He did not involve himself in the politics that would allow him to rise higher, instead focusing on protecting his new home from the various gangs that troubled the city.
Now operating under the hero registration of "Joe Public," Joe had taken a particular interest in taking down the Fifth Column. The remnant of Nazi Germany's invasion force had proved particularly difficult to root out. He, Suon (now calling himself "Atomic Swan") and Suon's fiancee, Nike, sought out their bases and captured as many as they could.
On the day he was to meet with the entertainer Ash Chapel, Joe got into an argument with Suon and Nike, and decided that he would prove that the Fifth Column had been poisoning the water under King's Row. He went alone into the base, and found no resistance. The base was powered down. Joe pushed further in, and suddenly found himself in tremendous pain and powerless. As his eyes lost their ability to see in the dark, the lights came up, and he found himself face-to-what passes for face with Nosferatu. The Nazi scientist mocked Joe, informed him that he knew he was an extra-terrestrial, and that he had discovered that a nictus crystal could weaken the invulnerable Marine's abilities.
Nosferatu had Joe placed in stasis, awakening him only to experiment on the Marine or torture him when the scientist was bored.
A recent Rikti assault caused the base to power down, and Joe awakened to find himself trapped in a metal coffin. Severely weakened, Joe still had the strength to batter open the coffin. He found the base deserted, and covered in dust. The Council takeover of the Fifth Column's bases had caused this one to become overlooked. Joe retrieved his uniform, and stumbled out into the sunlight.
He returned to Paragon City's city hall and re-registered, discovering to his chagrin that he had been held captive for over thirty years. In that time, he had been presumed KIA, and someone else had registered his former hero name. He re-registered under the nome de guerre "Workin' Joe", and went about the business of re-establishing himself among the hero community.
Joe was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel upon notifying the Marine Corps of his escape and was attached as an advisor to Vanguard. While there, he briefly became romantically involved with a Praetorian defector. Their relationship ended when he discovered that he could not provide her what she needed emotionally.
Joe has also come to terms with his alien heritage, and while he is no scientist, his biological father included gifts that Joe has been sharing with the people of earth. These are generally devices that aid in recovery from injury and provide new and interesting avenues of research.
For now, he continues to represent the Marine Corps interests among the hero community in Paragon City. And while other heroes may deride him as old-fashioned, he believes that the virtues that raised him are timeless.