Hometown Heroes - African American soldiers

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 7:10 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A Vietnam War survivor from Lake Charles, Charlie Woolridge is now spending his time taking care of fellow veterans. In 1969 he told his parents he had signed up for the Marines.

“(My parents) didn’t like it,” recalled Woolridge. “Especially my dad. He was soft-hearted. In fact, he cried when we left to go.”

August Sterling was a frogman for the Navy in 1951, when he was captured by the Korean Army.

“When we came up, we were shocked and surprised. It was something. They shot in the water to scare us I guess. Then we couldn’t swim away. So we couldn’t escape the bullets that was going to hit the water, so we gave in.”

He was locked up in a Korean prison for over 2 and a half years.

The late Noah Lewis was a Seabee during WWII, extending the air strip in Guam for B-29 bombers. Lewis told me in 2019 that he had trouble getting a job when he returned after the war.

“I was really hurt about it because I assumed after I came out that I would be able to do what I did in the service. but I found out it was very different. Certain jobs were for certain class of people. Mostly white.”

One of the first female African American ROTC members at McNeese, Dr. Cheryl Harris feels working through cultural issues made her a better person and soldier.

“Just being able to have that connectivity and look at an individual based on their merit, not necessarily the packaging. I always say that my packaging is the first thing you see. But there’s a lot more to me that what you see.”

It’s estimated there are now just over 2 million black military veterans nationwide. John Bridges 7 News.

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