Major General Harry W. Brooks Jr., Dies at Age 89 Indiana's First African-American General and Sixth in the Nation
Indianapolis, IN, August 31, 2017 --(PR.com
)-- Gen. Harry W. Brooks Jr., USA Ret, the first African-American general from the State of Indiana, and only the sixth African-American general in U.S. history, died August 27. He was 89.
General Brooks will be remembered by family, friends, military and retired military members at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church (5136 Michigan Rd) in Indianapolis, IN on Friday, September 8 from 4PM until 9PM, and Saturday, September 9 at 10AM with A Celebration of Life service immediately following at Noon.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana to Nora and Harry W. Brooks, Sr. on May 17, 1928, Harry, Jr. was education in the Indianapolis public schools attending IPS School #42, IPS School #87 and Crispus Attucks High School. He graduated from the historical Crispus Attucks High School in 1947 as an officer in the ROTC, and hailed as one of the school’s most accomplished alumni.
On October 10, 1948 Brooks married the former Doris Elizabeth Green (deceased). From that union four children were born: Harry W. Brooks III, Larry V. Brooks (deceased) Wayne L. Brooks (deceased) and Craig Ernest Brooks.
At the age of 19, Brooks enlisted in the United States Army as a private and soon after rose to sergeant. Noticed for his baseball prowess, Brooks was invited to Officer Candidates School (OCS) and received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1949. This was the beginning of a distinguished military career that would span over 29 years.
Brooks served in Japan with a logistics command in support of Korea, and in1966 went on to serve in Germany as an artillery officer. There, he trained the 2/40 Arty, 199th Brigade at Ft. Benning, Georgia and deployed it to Vietnam. Returning to the United States, thereafter, Brooks served on the Army General Staff with the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development. He attended the United States War College from 1969 to 1970, and co-authored The Gathering Storm: An Analysis of Racial Instability Within the Army. After completing the Army War College, he assumed command of the 72nd FA Group in Wertheim, Germany, and later returned to the U.S. to serve at the Pentagon as the first Army Director of Equal Opportunity and Race Relations during a time when the Army was experiencing severe racial turbulence.
Promoted to Brigadier General in 1972, Brooks joined the 2nd Infantry Division as Assistant Division Commander where one of his subordinate Battalion Commanders and mentees was Colin Powell. Powell later went on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State. In May 1974, Brooks was promoted to major general, and assumed command of the famed 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii where he was responsible for 16,000 GIs. There, he continued his practice of his personal motto, “I give a damn”, and exerting his belief in the power of education by ordering 10,000 enlisted personnel to return to school to complete their high school or associate degrees. In addition, General Brooks eventually shut down the 25th Infantry base prison due to the discipline and respect shown by his soldiers during his command.
Promoted to Brigadier General in 1972, Brooks joined the 2nd Infantry Division as Assistant Division Commander where one of his subordinate Battalion Commanders and mentees was Colin Powell. Powell later went on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State. In May 1974, Brooks was promoted to major general, and assumed command of the famed 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii where he was responsible for 16,000 GIs. There, he continued his practice of his personal motto, “I give a damn,” and exerting his belief in the power of education by ordering 10,000 enlisted personnel to return to school to complete their high school or associate degrees. In addition, General Brooks eventually shut down the 25th Infantry base prison due to the discipline and respect shown by his soldiers during his command.
General Brooks received numerous U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations during his military service. They include the U. S. Army Distinguished Service Medal, two Legion of Merit Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, seven Air Medals, the Vietnamese Ranger Badge, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and The Republic of Korean Order of National Security Merit award (Cheon-Su Medal).
Retiring from the Army in 1976, General Brooks joined AMFAC, Inc. of Hawaii, a land development company, where he rose to the position of Executive Vice President. In 1984, General Brooks and his colleagues founded Advance Consumer Marketing Corporation that generated over $250 million in revenue over the next nine years. This company won the “1989 Department of Commerce Minority Business of the Year,” and the "1990 Black Enterprise Company of the Year.”
Brooks’ philanthropic outreach and achievements throughout his civilian life rivaled his military service and decorations. An accomplished speaker, General Brooks was called upon to address countless, diverse audiences. Presented with the Kiwanis International Award, NAACP Meritorious Service, NAACP Freedom Award, Pittsburgh Courier Top Hat Award, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Black America, and a Public Relations New Gold Key Award. Also awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana's highest civilian award, and a bust of General Brooks sits on permanent display inside the Indiana World War Memorial.
General Brooks earned a Business Degree from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Human Relations Degree from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to graduating from the Army War College, he, also, graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and The Army Command and General Staff College. In 1978, he completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program.
Brooks served 30 years as a Trustee of the Freedom Forum, and was, also, a Trustee of Gannett Newspaper Foundation, member of the Hawaii Advisory Committee, Director on the Newseum Board and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, member of the Board of Trustees for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, and Member of the Board of Directors of the Occupational Medical Corporation of America. Moreover, General Brooks served on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Urban League, San Francisco Urban League, Hawaii State Chamber of Commerce, National Minority Supplier Development Council, First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, and International Diplomacy Council. He was SpaceVest Ltd. Advisor, Strategic Advisor for RPost, Inc., and on the Advisory Board of China Logistics Group, Inc. (formerly MediaReady Incorporated). A 33 Mason and Shriner, General Brooks was, also, a member of the Rotarians.
General Harry W. Brooks, Jr. was inducted into the Indianapolis Public School Hall of Fame in 2015, and is a member of the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2017. He was retired from Brooks International, a trading company for which he served as Chairman, and was residing in Las Vegas at the time of his death.
General Brooks is survived by his wife, June C. Hezekiah Brooks, sons, Major Harry W. Brooks, III (Ret) and Craig Ernest Brooks, stepdaughter, Kim Arnold, sister Betty L. Shaw, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and mentees. In addition to his parents and sons, Larry and Wayne, General Brooks’ sisters, Dorothy N. Davis and Carolyn Sue Sherrill, and brother, James Thomas Brooks, preceded him in death.
Major General Harry W. Brooks Jr., USA, (Ret) will be laid to rest in Washington, DC in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at a date to be announced.