Our Heritage

Dennis Brooks


My father joined the Navy in 1942 right after Pearl Harbor. Under age, his mother signed him in to service. He said he flew SBD's as a Petty Officer, but I am not sure. He was the gunner-radio-radar GIB of SB2C's and helped develop flight and radar procedures. He flew off the Wasp, Saratoga, and Hornet. His pilot went to fighters, and a Grumman Duck took Dad to Guadalcanal, then rotated back to Hickam.

He transferred to an Army Air Corps SB-17 unit when he returned from Guadalcanal while waiting on a new assignment to carriers. He said the engine would drain remaining fuel into the bilge after shut down. This resulted in several exploding on impact with the waves during water landings. Supposedly they changed to vent the engines outside. He said the JATO assist was interesting. He recovered flyers and bodies out of the sea and off mountains, becoming what was eventually the Pararescue Jumpers.

He transferred again to the Air Force in 1947, flying the route to Korea and teaching navigators not to be tricked into Russia. He had flown in more aircraft types than anyone known at the time. His specialty was electronics/avionics, but also taught navigation during the Korean War. He was out for a year around 1954, then back in the Army where he had to go through Army basic at Fort Benning as a Sergeant.

He could not put up with the Army, so he went back to the Air Force. He flew all over the world as an avionics and radar specialist. He retired in 1965, supposedly after tossing a Major through a plate glass window. He was offered Vietnam, a court martial, or retirement with 21 years plus. He chose retirement and went on to work in the space industry.

This is my grandfather, my mother's father, when he was in WWI. They had to buy their own pistols if they wanted one.