Ahearn was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1936. He attended the University of Notre Dame and Syracuse University.
Ahearn joined the Air Force in 1958. His first assignment was at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where he was a construction engineer and programmer. From there, he was assigned to Goose Air Base in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland. In 1963, he transferred to Headquarters Eighth Air Force as a missile maintenance engineer before becoming Director of Engineering and Construction the following year.
Ahearn would be stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany from 1967 to 1970, at which time he was deployed to serve in the Vietnam War. After returning to the United States, he was named a squadron commander at Craig Air Force Base before transferring to Headquarters Air Training Command.
In 1976, Ahearn was assigned to The Pentagon, and in 1983, he returned to West Germany to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Engineering and Services at Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe. He returned to The Pentagon in 1989 as Director of Engineering and Services in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics and Engineering and was named Civil Engineer, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in 1991.
His retirement was effective as of January 1, 1992.
During his career, Ahearn became affiliated with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of American Military Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Public Works Association. Additionally, he became a Centurion of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. The Major General Joseph A. Ahearn Enlisted Leadership Award given by the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency is named after him.
Awards he received include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Outstanding Unit Award with valor device and the Armed Forces Honor Medal of South Vietnam.
- ↑ 
- ↑ "Major General Joseph A. Ahearn". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-07-20. http://archive.is/PyY0. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
- ↑ "2009 Air Force Civil Engineering Awards". Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency. http://www.afcesa.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100625-133.pdf. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
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