James Kirschke was born in Norfolk, VA but grew up in South Philadelphia. He earned his bachelors degree from LaSalle College, and his masters and Ph.D. degrees in English at Temple University. He is currently an English professor at Villanova University.
In Vietnam during 1966 and 1967, James Kirschke was commander of the mortar platoon of 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, and of a rifle platoon in Hotel Company, 2n Battalion, 5th Marines. He was medically retired in 1968.