[caption id="attachment_14267" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/11\/Joe.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-14267" src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/11\/Joe.jpg" alt="JOE\u2008AND\u2008CHRISTINE Sharp at their home on Third Avenue in Marlinton. The couple found their retirement home while biking on the Greenbrier River Trail. J. Graham photos" width="600" height="211" \/><\/a> JOE\u2008AND\u2008CHRISTINE Sharp at their home on Third Avenue in Marlinton. The couple found their retirement home while biking on the Greenbrier River Trail. J. Graham photos[\/caption]\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThere\u2019s a fairly new veteran in Marlinton \u2013 not newly discharged from the service, but newly settled and involved in the town and county.\r\n\r\nJoseph Sharp and his wife. Christine, found their new home in 2011 while biking on the Greenbrier River Trail. Always outdoor enthusiasts, Joe said they stayed on the lookout for a place to retire.\r\n\r\nThe couple stopped at the parking lot near the Community Wellness Center in Marlinton and looked around.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis is it, Christine,\u201d Joe said.\r\n\r\nThree more trips from Oxen Hill, Maryland, to Marlinton, and the couple bought their retirement home on Third Avenue.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe bought it, even though it is in the flood plain,\u201d Joe said.\r\n\r\nNot only did they buy it, but they have breathed new life into it, and have become involved in the community, as well.\r\n\r\nAs a young man, Sharp lived in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Uncertain as to his career path, he enlisted in the Air Force in 1968, right out of high school, and served until August 1971.\r\n\r\nIt was at the height of the Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe draft was not in effect back then,\u201d he said. \u201cIt was enacted after I enlisted, but as it turned out my draft number was pretty high \u2013 like three-hundred or something. But that didn\u2019t matter. I wanted to serve my country, so I enlisted in the Air Force.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlthough he did not see combat, he credits the Air Force with providing him an education and setting him on a path to a successful career in communications and technology.\r\n\r\nSharp received his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and continued his training at Goodfellow AFB in St. Angelo, Texas, home of the 17th Training Wing.\r\n\r\nHe then spent 18 months as a communication analyst at a U.S. Air Force Base in San Vito, Italy.\r\n\r\nHe worked with the Air Force Security Service, which is the Military Branch of the National Security Agency (NSA).\r\n\r\nThat laid the groundwork for his eventual civilian career, working for information technology companies such as IBM and Computer Task Group.\r\n\r\nWhen he went into communications in 1968, he could not foresee what the world of communications would look like today.\r\n\r\n\u201cBack then, we were working with computers that were gigantic machines,\u201d Sharp said. \u201cNothing like we have today. We had punch cards. Not like today where everybody, whether they want to or not, are now \u2013 with smart phones and tablets \u2013 everyone has a feel for it, and people who have had no prior experience are now quite efficient with them \u2013 especially kids.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlthough his career has been in communications, when it comes to kids \u2013 his grandchildren to be more specific \u2013 he limits their use of gadgets, and makes them talk to each other.\r\n\r\nLife is about balance and benefits.\r\n\r\nSharp appreciates the benefits he received from his time in the Air Force, especially with regard to education. He believes the Air Force and the Navy offer great opportunities for young men and women in preparing them with needed skills for the workforce.\r\n\r\n\u201cInstead of finding out in high school or college what I\u2019d like to do, he said, \u201cI was exposed to communications in the military, and that put me ahead of the curve at that time \u2013 by far over the civilian population. I was able to get a job with the Computer Science Corporation as a contractor with Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.\u201d\r\n\r\nSharp said he was able to work in all the high end industries as well, such as banking, insurance and pharmaceuticals.\r\n\r\nIn a time when college tuition is so expensive, he recommends that young people work hard in high school and consider the opportunities afforded by the military.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think, in the military, you get some choice of what you want to do,\u201d he said, \u201cbut there are no guarantees. But, regardless, I would say study in high school because it\u2019s going to pay off when you go into the military. They do a lot of testing \u2013 aptitude tests \u2013 what kind of skills does this person have? Can they grasp and comprehend the type of technology that we\u2019re going to train them for?\r\n\r\n\u201cYou need a strong high school base whether you\u2019re going to college or not.\u201d\r\n\r\nSharp said one of the most helpful things the military offers is the GI Bill - a big help with education expenses after someone leaves the service.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou also have a lot of experience already under your belt,\u201d he said. \u201cFinding a job will be much easier for you than if you\u2019re just coming out of college. You can also pursue your education while you are in the military, and you can almost have a degree ready to go when you get out.\r\n\r\n\u201cWith the training and experience you get in the military, plus a college education, you can write your own ticket.\u201d\r\n\r\nStudents coming right out of college have little to no experience and, these days, employers want both, Sharp said. They want two or three years\u2019 experience, and how are you going to get it?\r\n\r\n\u201cYou have to start somewhere to get it,\u201d he continued. \u201cI would recommend - to men and women \u2013 to look to the military for those very reasons. The military teaches more than combat skills. It is involved in just about everything \u2013 weather, science, avionics. These lead to good paying jobs.\u201d\r\n\r\nCollege debt is another reason to consider enlisting in the military.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt is two-fold,\u201d Sharp said. \u201cYou are doing your obligation \u2013 serving your country \u2013 doing your part as a citizen, but look at it, also, as an opportunity to get an education through the benefits such as the GI Bill. One of the drawbacks to young people today is college debt. If your parents don\u2019t have the money, then you have to borrow it, and you have such a debt to pay back, that it\u2019s hard to get your feet off the ground.\u201d\r\n\r\nSharp got his \u201cfeet off the ground\u201d when he went from the service to the workforce.\r\n\r\nNow, in their retirement, he and Christine are putting their backgrounds and energy to good use through projects in Pocahontas County \u2013 a place where they are content, he said.\r\n\r\nChristine was one of the vendors at this year\u2019s Autumn Harvest Festival and RoadKill Cook-off, and you will find her and her handmade Christmas ornaments at the Holiday Craft Show December 2 at the opera house.\r\n\r\nThey also work with Jim Burton of Burton\u2019s Enterprises and Debbie Walker at Deb Ann\u2019s Fabrics in Hillsboro.\r\n\r\n\u201cShe\u2019s a very nice lady,\u201d Sharp said. \u201cShe calls us her support team. What I did for her was to revamp her website. We help her with that end of her business and with her marketing team.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe couple was also involved with the Fall Quilt Retreat, and are working with that group to find ways to make it a bigger and better attraction in the future.\r\n\r\nTheir home on Third Avenue holds a lot of memories for many who grew up in Marlinton. It was the home of Oren and Gladys Waugh, who were very involved in youth activities and sports, and opened their door to young people.\r\n\r\nIt appears the Sharps are set to leave their mark on that property and the county, as well.\r\nAny young person interested in enlisting in the military would do well to seek guidance from Sharp \u2013 a fine example of what the military can do to jumpstart a career.