Courtesy of his classmates
United States Military Academy, Class of 1946
Herrold Emerson Brooks, Jr.
No.15974 Class of 1946
Died 29 November 1972 In Washington, D.C., aged 47 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery
Herrold Emerson Brooks, Jr., known to family and friends as Jim, was born on Christmas Day 1924 and lived with his grandmother on a farm in Washington, D.C. in the 1930's. He and his brother Bob fed the pigs and chickens and gathered eggs to sell. Bob recalled that, even at an early age, Jim was very good with his hands. One of his first ventures was to build and race his own soapbox racer. His shop work carried over into high school, but by then Jim was active in the ROTC program, and it took most of his time. His love of things military stemmed from his father's career as a Reserve officer, which saw him go on active duty during World War II and retire in 1947 in the grade of colonel. His last year of high school was spent at Millard's Preparatory School in Washington, but he graduated from McKinley High. Jim fulfilled a life-long ambition by entering West Point on 1 July 1943 with the Class of 1946.
Cadet life was relatively uneventful for Jim. He had several close brushes with the Academic Department but managed to keep them at bay. One companymate recalls an instance Plebe Year when Jim was playing Mr. Fix-It and attempted to fix a blown fuse with a wet penny. The net result was a more-than-slightly-shaken Jim and half the lights in Central Area blown out. At graduation, Jim pinned on the bars of a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery.
Following completion of the Basic Course, Jim traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia to get his Parachute Wings. From Benning, Jim was assigned to the Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kansas. In the summer of 1948, Jim embarked from Seattle, Washington en route to Japan for assignment to the 675th Field Artillery Battalion. Jim was whiling away his time aboard ship playing bridge when a young lady was asked to fill in as a fourth. The young lady was Betty Neel, also en route to Japan to work with the Military Government Team in northern Honshu. Jim and Betty were married 22 November 1948 at the US Consulate in Yokohama, as required by law, and repeated their vows on 27 November at the 11th Division Artillery Chapel. Jim and Betty returned with the 11th when it rotated back to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In 1951 Jim was assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. While there, he developed polio. After about a year's hospitalization, he returned to duty and transferred to the Ordnance Corps.
Jim spent a year in Korea, first as company commander of an Ordnance ammunition company and then as assistant mmunition officer in the Ordnance section of Eighth Army. Returning to the States, he was assigned to the Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Brigadier General Anthony F. (Tony) Daskevich, US Army (Retired), recalled: “Jim was a respected instructor and was very dedicated to his job. While at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Jim and I became very close. We bought and repaired an old boat and spent many hours fishing in the Chesapeake Bay …. He was a fine man and a pleasure to be around…. . It didn't make any difference if you were building a house, mowing a lawn, or repairing a car; Jim was available to lend a helping hand.”
After attending the Advanced Course, Jim traveled to Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where he completed the Ordnance Guided Missile Course. He was the 5000th graduate of the course. Jim remained at Redstone as an instructor but in 1958 was selected to attend Babson Institute in Babson Park, Massachusetts, where he earned an MBA. His utilization tour was as comptroller for the Army Logistics Depot, Japan. In 1964 Jim became a program analyst in the Office of the Comptroller of the Army in the Pentagon.
In January 1966, Jim was diagnosed as having bone marrow cancer and advised to remain in the Washington area for treatment. Jim was determined to remain on active duty as long as he could, so he transferred to Fort Meade, Maryland in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics. His long-time friend Tony Daskevich recalled: “…. Jim and I were in different staff sections and did not work together. However, our close friendship continued. I must emphasize that if I would have to choose a friend for life, without question it would have to be Jim Brooks. I remember the day that Jim was told that he had cancer. Jim insisted that I go with him for a walk. We walked for a long time; I mostly listened while Jim talked. He reminisced about the good times; how he enjoyed military life and wished he could have done more for his country. Not one time did he say, ‘Why me? Why was I singled out to have cancer?' He talked a lot about Betty and the children and what a good life they had enjoyed over the years, and that he had to make sure that everything was taken care of for them. He said he was thankful to the Good Lord for giving him enough time to plan and put things in motion to make life easier for his family. While Jim was facing death, he hadn't changed, he was still thinking of others and what he could do to help them. This was exactly the way I remembered Jim from the very first time I met him.”
Jim remained at Fort Meade until he was physically retired in the grade of lieutenant colonel in October 1969. Jim died from his illness on 29 November 1972. He was survived by his wife Betty and daughters Sharon and Robin; his parents, Colonel and Mrs. Herrold E. Brooks, Sr.; and his brother Robert.
Jim Brooks was a West Pointer in every sense of the term. Facing certain death, he only wished that he could have done more for his country. How many can say the same? He was dedicated to the things in life that count: his honor, his duty, his family and his friends. His life was “a life for others.” It didn't matter to him what the need was of someone else; he was there to help them. The irrational riddle of life came full circle for Jim Brooks. A man who dedicated his life to the ideals of West Point, to his country, to his family and his friends and to helping others had his life cut short just as he was finally in a position to achieve his lifetime goals. The Class of 1946 is proud and honored to call Jim Brooks one of its own, and to join his family and friends in saying, “Well Done, Jim; Be Thou At Peace”
'46 Memorial Article Project and his wife Betty
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard