From your avatar it looks like you spent a few tours in Vietnam and some time in the Corps of Engineers. I was in a different service, but have the utmost respect for the Corps of Engineers as a whole and many of the individuals I've had the honor to work with post active duty.
With respect to Joe, we may be looking at the world through a different set of glasses. Having worked with and flown with a good double handful of folks who could almost be painted with the same picture as he was, I know that decisions are made at every point. Some of us may think the decision showed serious lack of judgement, but those who survive repeated episodes are indeed exercising a form of attention to safety that the rest of the world cannot know or understand.
The comment from the post above describes things very well:
...his survival hinged on two things:
1) A reasonable claim to the title of "meanest-mother-in-the-valley"
2) Very good luck at very special moments.
I can't claim #1, because others in my outfit have a far better claim, but we all were very good at #2.
I also learned that someone, somewhere, always had bigger challenges than I did, even though I was doing stuff that other folks thought was crazy, stupid, and fantastic. Joe was one of these from the sound of the description.
I do know from that personal experience what others may think is crazy or stupid is truly well thought-out, even if the thought process is completed in milliseconds.