James Sharp joined the Marine Corps in 1951 and was one few African Americans to serve in his company. He speaks highly of his placement in the 7th Marines and notes that he was treated well even though integration in the Marine Corps had only occurred a few years prior. He recounts life in the trenches and offers an account of defending a patrol unit amid a Chinese ambush. Following a revisit to Korea, he reflects on the positive outcome of the Korean War. He is proud of his service and feels it was of worth given the success Korea has seen since.
African American Marines
James Sharp recounts his basic training and speaks highly of his placement. He shares that he was the only African American in his Marine platoon at the time but adds that once in Korea, he was joined by four other African Americans for a total of five in his company. He laments that two of them were killed while there.
Integration in the Marine Corps
James Sharp describes the official integration of African American soldiers in the Marine Corps prior to the Korean War. He adds that the Korean War was the first war where African Americans could participate in combat both as a unit and as an individual assigned to units. He also offers an account of African American contributions in previous wars.
Treatment of African Americans in the Marines
James Sharp describes his treatment by fellow Marines from New York City. He explains that Marines are a different breed of people and that he was never singled out or treated poorly. He shares his take on there being a different understanding of human beings in New York at the time compared to the deep South as a means of supporting why he was not treated poorly.
Average Day Defending an Outpost
James Sharp describes an average day while defending a trench for an 83 day period as a machine gunner. He recounts receiving mortar fire often during the day and night as well as sniper fire if soldiers emerged from the trenches. He explains the necessity of being alert and aware of movement near one's position and details the need for a machine gunner to accompany patrol units.
Machine Gunner Expertise
James Sharp details an ambush scenario a unit found itself amid one night while out on patrol. He recalls Chinese machine gunners furtively stationed on a dike in the rice patties, waiting on half of the patrol to cross before attacking. He describes his own firing expertise and his ability to take out the gunners on the dike to secure the location.
Reflections and View of Korea Today
James Sharp reflects on the the Korean War and discusses the positive outcome. He expresses that his revisit to Korea was a life-lifting experience as he was able to witness the development that has occurred since the war. He shares that soldiers often carry bad memories of war, wondering if their service was of worth, but he expresses that after seeing Korea's development during his revisit, he is certain his service was of worth.