“They always ask you if you were scared. Of course we were. Anybody who said they weren’t scared was lying or sick in the head.” – William “Red” Sharbrough
At age 21 standing on foreign soil with a rifle in his hand and a wife and baby back home, Red Sharbrough had good reason to be scared. He didn’t let fear stop him from doing what needed to be done, however.
We lost an American hero last Saturday when Mr. Sharbrough died at age 89. The quote at the beginning of this column came from a 2014 interview with this newspaper where he recalled the events that led up to him suffering a lifelong injury in the Korean War.
Sharbrough traveled nearly two weeks by ship to Japan and then moved on to Korea. That’s when real courage was required, and Sharbrough proved to have plenty.
He said that he had to overcome his fear when it came time to fight.
“You just had to make up your mind. You might get killed. But if you were to stop and think about it, it would drive you crazy. I just made up my mind.”
He was seriously injured by a mortar wound to the leg. Basic first aid was the only treatment he received for two days as he was transported by hand back to Seoul. He spent around 15 days in foreign hospitals before being transported back to the United States.
He spent the next three years in the hospital battling to save what was left of his leg. He was eventually able to walk with the assistance of a brace, but he experienced bone infections throughout his life.
Sharbrough’s public service didn’t end when his military career was over.
In 1961 he became the postmaster of the post office in Holly Bluff. He was carrying on a family tradition following in the footsteps of his grandfather Frank Wilson Sharbrough and his father W.C. Sharbrough Sr.
There had been a Sharbrough working in the Holly Bluff post office since 1907. He retired from the post office in 1990.
Sharbrough was instrumental in organizing a volunteer fire department for Holly Bluff, and he read the river gauges for the U.S. Corps of Engineers daily during times of flooding. During the 1970s flooding he was the community’s unofficial weatherman.
He was one of the founders of the Holly Bluff Water System and an active member of his church, Holly Bluff United Methodist.
Mr. Sharbrough lived a long and productive life. He made a huge impact on a small community. We should all be proud that such a great American – a man who knew exactly the cost of the freedoms we all enjoy – chose to live his life here.