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David Brown

Enlisted Soldier David W. Brown was born on August 26, 1920 in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1943, four years after completing high school, and three days after he and his wife were married, Brown was drafted into the United States Army.

In 1944, Brown was deployed during World War II with the 490th Port Battalion, 226 Port Company European Theater, where he served as a technician 4th Grade. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Brown landed on the shores of Utah Beach alongside 23,000 other men as allied forces stormed the beaches at Normandy. The following year, while still serving in Europe, he would travel to England, France and Belgium. In December of 1945, Brown received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Army. Following the end of the War, he returned to the United States and was discharged from the military in a ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Brown then traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended Maplewood Refrigeration, a vocational school. After completing training there in 1948, Brown worked as a refrigeration engineer. He also attended the Carrier Corporation, another vocational institute in Syracuse, New York, where he received further schooling in AC engineering. Brown went on to work as a refrigeration and air conditioning engineer at Beaumont Medical and System Air. He then established his own firm, Brown Industrial Corporation.

Brown was the recipient of many awards and honors. In 2004, he was the featured veteran in Studs Terkel’s production The Good War, showcased in Skokie, Illinois. Then, in 2009, after contributing to the History Channel’s program A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day, Brown was awarded an Emmy plaque from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2010, during a ceremony in Northbrook, Illinois, he was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor medal, the highest decoration bestowed on those who have achieved remarkable deeds for France.

Brown passed away on June 13, 2015 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2013.193

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/20/2013

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

W.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Manassas High School

Maplewood School of Refigeration

Carrier Corporation

Search Occupation Category
First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

BRO57

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/26/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Northbrook

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Death Date

6/13/2015

Short Description

Soldier David Brown (1920 - 2015 ) served in the United States Army during World War II, and participated in the Normandy landings on D-Day.

Employment

Hammel Refrigeration

Central Refrigeration

Beaumont Medical

System Air

Brown Industrial Corporation

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David Brown lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David Brown discusses his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David Brown discusses his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David Brown talks about how his parents met and married, their life in Memphis, Tennessee, and his mother's electrical and plumbing skills

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David Brown describes his childhood home in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David Brown describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David Brown describes Christmas holidays with his family during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - David Brown describes the neighborhood where he grew up in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - David Brown describes his experience in elementary school and high school in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - David Brown talks about his history and chemistry classes in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David Brown talks about his experience in church as a child, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David Brown talks about his experience in church as a child, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David Brown talks about his experience in elementary school and his desire to become an engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David Brown talks about building radios and a doorbell as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David Brown talks about listening to BBC radio's newscast about World War II, and his interest in airplanes

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David Brown talks about growing up during the Great Depression, and losing the money that he had invested in a program in grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David Brown talks about his in high school and his friends who volunteered for military service

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David Brown talks about working at an engineering store after graduating from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David Brown talks about being drafted into World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - David Brown talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David Brown talks about the events that led him to date his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David Brown talks about dating his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David Brown talks about growing up during segregation, and saving to buy a car

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David Brown describes how he and his brother, Grover, were drafted into World War II, and their trip to Fort Benning, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David Brown talks about leaving home for the draft and being assigned to boot camp in Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David Brown talks about his experience at Camp Harahan, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David Brown talks about his altercation with the first sergeant at Camp Harahan, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David Brown talks about his altercation with the first sergeant at Camp Harahan, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - David Brown talks about his transfer to Newport News, Virginia in August of 1943

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David Brown talks about his reassignment to the U.S. Navy and his involvement with an espionage interception mission

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David Brown talks about being assigned to the Allied invasion of Normandy, France in 1944 during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David Brown describes the events that led up to his involvement in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David Brown describes the events that led up to his involvement in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David Brown describes the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David Brown describes the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David Brown reflects upon the deaths of American soldiers during the invasion of Normandy in June, 1944, during World War II

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David Brown describes his experience after landing on Utah Beach, Normandy in June, 1944 during World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David Brown describes his experience after landing on Utah Beach, Normandy in June, 1944 during World War II, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David Brown talks about the roles of the soldiers on Utah Beach, Normandy in June, 1944 during World War II

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David Brown talks about leaving Utah Beach, Normandy, France and being reassigned to Rouen, France in November of 1944

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David Brown talks about the Battle of the Bulge and how German soldiers killed American soldiers and masqueraded as American troops

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - David Brown discusses two rare instances of racial discrimination while he was a soldier at Utah Beach, Normandy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - David Brown talks about his assignment to Rouen, France

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - David Brown discusses his experience in Rouen, France, as the German offense mounted

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - David Brown talks about the killing of German intruders at his post at Rouen, France during the Battle of the Bulge

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - David Brown talks about being promoted to Technician Fourth Grade and other black officers whom he served with

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - David Brown talks about the soldiers who died on Utah Beach, Normandy in June of 1944

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - David Brown talks about the close-knit environment of the troops he served with in World War II

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - David Brown talks about being assigned to special duty in Rouen and an American soldier killing an anti-Semitic German

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - David Brown talks about capturing a German ship in Cherbourg, France

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - David Brown talks about being stationed in Cherbourg, France, after World War II

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - David Brown talks about his transition out of Europe after World War II, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - David Brown talks about his transition out of Europe after World War II, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - David Brown describes his trip from Belgium to New York in December, 1945

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - David Brown talks about leaving the U.S. Army in January of 1946, his journey home to Memphis, and the reception from his family

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - David Brown talks about encountering racial discrimination as a World War II veteran in America, and his decision to attend trade school

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - David Brown describes his experience in trade school

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - David Brown talks about his first job assignment and racial discrimination

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - David Brown talks about his brother's return from World War II and his career in the railroad and in printing

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - David Brown talks about his children, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - David Brown talks about his children, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - David Brown talks about his efforts in the union for rights for African Americans in the 1940s

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - David Brown reflects upon the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - David Brown reflects upon the Vietnam War and the politics of war and veterans' services

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - David Brown reflects about being recognized as an African American soldier in World War II and D-Day, and the movie industry's portrayal of the war

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - David Brown reflects upon receiving the Legion of Honor Award, and the difference between his treatment in Europe and in the U.S.

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - David Brown reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - David Brown shares his message to future generations

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - David Brown gives a message to the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - David Brown reflects upon racial prejudices in the United States and segregation in the U.S. Army during World War II

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - David Brown describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
David Brown describes the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II, pt. 1
David Brown talks about the roles of the soldiers on Utah Beach, Normandy in June, 1944 during World War II
Transcript
Tuesday [June 6, 1944] morning, some guy say, "Hey Sarge, they're bombing the beach." "You're crazy, they're not bombing the beach." And I wake up, they were bombing the beach; from the right to the left, from the right to the left, from right to left--all Tuesday morning. So as the daylight begin to appear over France, all the ships that go in the same direction, everybody--are stopping at disorganized rotation; some goin' east, some goin' west, some goin' north, some goin' south. And we were going north; we kept goin' north. Now the waves begin to settle down; it's still choppy. Now I notice up ahead of us was a striped war ship; he was shining (unclear) ashore. I didn't pay attention where these waves--where shell was falling, but I notice we have these--shell--leave these guns on this war ship; these flame burners, go down and hit the water level. I'm thinkin' 'I hope we don't get too close to this war ship 'cause if that flame hit these shells, we are suckin' duck.' As we got mid-ship, he made a U-turn to the right, in his U-turnin', I turned my head to the left and my chin is still fastened tight against these ammunition, and I spotted that building that you see now in History Channel, two-story building that's on the top of that hill that you see on History Channel, and the gunfire was goin' galore. It was no firing from where we were, but you could hear it on the beach over there. It was Omaha Beach. But we weren't going there, we were goin' back to Utah Beach so we kept goin' south now. As the daylight approaches, I saw that (unclear) stickin' out in the channel like a sore thumb, and along--parallel this was these landing craft that goin' beside of 'em--these two-stage landing craft, and they was already goin' on to Utah Beach unloadin' their vehicles, the tanks and their troops. They're goin' onto the beach through the--through this opening that was in the beach head. Well, there was no gun firing going across; true, we're goin' across at a fast pace but they weren't runnin', 'cause when you're sure--we were pretty sure they were goin' right parallel beside of it and he go right through there and there was nobody on that beach, and this went on all morning. At eight o' clock, we was supposed to go ashore, and we kept goin'--move up a little bit, and we move up a little bit and stop and move up a little bit and stop. All at once, the sailor says, "Go short." So we stop, and there was a whole bunch of ships in front of us--landing craft rather. Then all at once, four landing crafts blew up in front of us; we never did find out who it was because in World War II, information didn't pass like they do today; if you saw it, then you just kept it to yourself. So we didn't bother about it; we kept waiting, kept waiting, so finally our sailor come along and says, "The beach master step on a landing craft because the tide was going out and the beach master didn't want the landing craft stuck three or 400 feet from the beach 'cause the land vehicles gets bogged down in this soft sand unloading these landing crafts and when tide comes back in, they'd be under the water, so they didn't that; they'd stop us that far; they're waitin' for the tide to come back in. Same time--every once in a--maybe five minutes, a shell would come out from the beach. This was a (unclear) box; a gun was fired from a (unclear) box--a German (unclear) box. So we couldn't find him but the Navy was lookin' for it. Navy finally find this gun in the gun slot and it kept firing at this pure box. As it got to five shots--'cause we could see this fireman's shell comin' from this Navy ship hit this pure box and bouncin' off his pure box just like a tennis ball. Now we figure we're in bad trouble 'cause if that shell don't penetrate that (unclear) box, we in trouble buddy. It was shelling down the (unclear)--the beach; it wasn't shelling out to the water, just straight down the beach, which we gotta cross. And this went on all day long.$So the, the next day comes; is that when you get to leave, or what happened?$$You never get no relief. You're in this foxhole and we were waitin'--our job is--everybody has a job; the one job everybody has, even the five on this aircraft--everybody following this aircraft, that's where the air raid is. Well your job is--our job is to unload these seagoing vessels. Well they now, they can't come any closer; they're four or 500 feet from the shore; only the landing crafts come ashore. The beach master they're the traffic jam--traffic cops; all landing crafts come to the shore first; they get unloaded first. The quartermasters, this is their job. (Unclear) don't do this; quartermasters drive their vehicles on these landing crafts, unloads it, all these supplies on these landing craft, drive 'em in shore to the fuel dumps, ammunition dump, to the water dumps. A dump is a supply area, in the Army, they call it a dump. But you got fuel rations, you put on (unclear) and as your front line needs this, front line have their own people comin' to these dumps to get what they need and go back to feed 'em. Now Americans think the minority soldiers are there to feed the Caucasian soldiers. I straightened that out--a writer down in Bloomington [Indiana] about this. It sounded good to the writer. I tore it out of his book; I say "You got it all wrong; I was there, you wasn't." "Well this makes you look--" "I'm not here to make anything to you look good; I'm the one that suffered the consequence over there."$$So, so what was the correct--what did you correct him about? I'm unclear about that.$$He had on his book "the minority soldiers' job was to furnish supplies to Caucasian soldiers." That's not true. The quartermaster was the supply area, and you got--black soldiers was in the quartermasters, white soldiers was in quartermaster--foreman (ph.). And as the front lines told you who was your infantry, they needed guns or they need food, they need ammunition, they need fuel, the quartermaster delivered it to them--to that dump. Whether they're white or black, the delivered to 'em. Then the infantry soldier had their own people come to their particular dump to pick it up and take it to the front lines. Just as simple as you own a business; you go to this company over here to pick up your supply of goods that you need. No, he's not working for you; you go to him to get it. That's the way that went; the Army was set up just like a business. So that's why I had to take it out of his book.$$Okay. So how long were you on Utah Beach [Normandy, France]?$$Five months.$$Five months?$$Five months--from June until November [1944]; Thanksgiving Day.$$Okay.

Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray

U.S. Army Brigadier General Arnold N. Gordon-Bray was born in Columbia, South Carolina. His parents were Felix Gordon and Martha McNeil, and his stepfather was Isiah Bray. He graduated from Waynesville High School in Waynesville, Missouri in 1973. Gordon-Bray became interested in pursuing a military career when his brother, Michael, began to collect information about the United States Army. Gordon-Bray enrolled at Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri) in the fall of 1973 as an art major where he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He graduated from Central Missouri State University with his B.S. degree in art in 1978. Gordon-Bray’s military education includes the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Combined Arms Services and Staff College the, the Naval War College, and numerous other military schools.

Gordon-Bray became chief of the training division at Joint Special Operations command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1990. In 1996, he was named commander of the 1st Battalion of the 508th Airborne Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy. In 1999, he graduated from the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama with his M.A. degree in military strategic studies; and, in 2001, Gordon-Bray graduated with his M.A. degree in operations management and supervision from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He then assumed command of the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, known as the “Falcon Brigade.” He led the Falcon Brigade during the early months of the Iraq War in 2003, and then served a second tour of duty in Iraq from 2006 to 2007 as the principal advisor to the Iraqi Ground Force Commander. During 2007, Gordon-Bray became deputy commanding general of the United States Army Cadet Command in Fort Monroe, Virginia. In 2011, Gordon-Bray became deputy director of operations for the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). He then retired in November of 2012 and then started his own consulting firm, ANGB Consulting, in Fayetteville, North Carolina in January of 2013.

Gordon-Bray military honors include the Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Brigadier General Arnold N. Gordon-Bray was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 11, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.224

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/11/2013

Last Name

Gordon-Bray

Maker Category
Middle Name

N.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

U.S. Naval War College

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Air War College

University of Central Missouri

Central Michigan University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Arnold

Birth City, State, Country

Columbia

HM ID

GOR05

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Bring your 'A' game.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

6/14/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Raleigh

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hot Dogs, Pork, Beans

Short Description

Brigadier general Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray (1955 - ) , one of the top-ranking African American generals in the United States Army, held several commands during a thirty-four-year career, including leadership of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Falcon Brigade during the Iraq War.

Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arnold Gordon-Bray's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his name

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his mother's education and her growing up in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about chasing chickens on his grandmother's farm in Ridgewood, South Carolina, and how this helped him in ranger school

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his maternal family's education and service in the armed forces

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his relationship with his father, Felix Gordon, and his death in 2010

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his parental family's presence in Edgefield, South Carolina, and their migration to the north

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his father's service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and African Americans not being recognized for their service

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about spending time with his father's family

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about how his parents met and married, his father's education, and the Gordon family's reputation for their good looks

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his parents living in and around Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray discusses his height, height requirements in the U.S. armed forces, and why he was disqualified as an aviator by the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his siblings and his childhood household

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about why he never went to kindergarten, winning an art contest in the first grade, and his mother's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes Christmas at his home while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray recalls one particular Christmas from his childhood, and his parents' efforts to make Christmas special for the family

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes how his childhood Christmas experiences have influenced his Christmas traditions as an adult

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his familiarity with the city of Columbia, South Carolina, and how his parents were able to buy a home there

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his childhood neighborhood in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his first grade drawing that won first place in an art contest

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his interest in art, and reflects upon what it means to be an artist

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his art supplies, and having to think outside the box

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his experience in elementary school, and transitioning into an integrated school system in 1966

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about growing up under segregation in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience in the integrated school system in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about being stereotyped in college

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his parents getting a divorce in 1966, and describes his family's tensions at the time

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his mother remarrying, and his social experience in middle school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about the positive influence of his friend, Kenny Davis, in middle school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience at C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about attending Columbia High School in his junior year

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks his step-father and brother joining the Vietnam War, and his initial interest in joining the military

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about reading Malcolm X's autobiography while he was in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray recalls the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray discusses the influence and impact of the civil rights era while he was growing up in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about how Malcolm X's autobiography impacted his political thoughts

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his brother serving in a segregated Army in the Vietnam War, and his radical political leanings when he returned

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his family moving to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and resuming his interest in playing basketball

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about the encouragement that he received from his step-father, Isiah Bray

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his step-father's influence on him deciding to go to college

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about majoring in art, joining the ROTC, and playing on the basketball team at the University of Central Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about playing league basketball after graduating from the University of Central Missouri, and maturing as a player

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his fan club while he was on the basketball team at the University of Central Missouri

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about the influence of his basketball coach, Tom Smith, from the University of Central Missouri

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience at ROTC camp in Fort Riley, Kansas and his goals after graduating from college

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his decision to focus on his military career and sacrifice his interest in pursuing basketball in the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience at Fort Jackson, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his assignment to a tour in Korea, and his experience there

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience on tour in Korea

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his experience running into a mine field on tour in Korea

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience in advanced training at Fort Benning, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray explains why he was disqualified from becoming a U.S. Army aviator, and describes his challenges at ranger school

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his medical challenges while at ranger school, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his medical challenges while at ranger school, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about Roscoe Robinson, Jr. and Julius Becton

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his assignment to the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his experience as a company commander in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his assignment as company commander of the headquarters company

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his assignment as the operations officer of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience in Somalia with the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his service following the plane crash over Gander, Newfoundland in 1985, which killed 248 American soldiers, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his service following the plane crash over Gander, Newfoundland in 1985, which killed 248 American soldiers, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his involvement in a joint operation training with the U.S. Marines in the Caribbean

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about his selection as aide to the corps commander in 1986

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience as the aide-de-camp to General James J. Lindsay, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience as the aide-de-camp to General James J. Lindsay, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Arnold Gordon-Bray describes his experience as the aide-de-camp to General James J. Lindsay, pt. 3

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Arnold Gordon-Bray talks about serving as the aide-de-camp to General John Foss, and his assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division

Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick was born on September 23, 1956 in Fukuoka, Japan. Bostick was raised in a family with a strong military background. His father was a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant; his father-in-law, a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major; and his brother, a U.S. Army Colonel. Bostick graduated with his B.S. degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1978. He received his M.S. degree in civil engineering and his M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1985. Bostick’s military education includes the U.S. Army Engineer School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

In 1978, Bostick was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and was then assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion in Wildflecken, Germany where he served in a variety of capacities until 1982. Upon returning to the United States, Bostick studied at the U.S. Army Engineer School and Stanford University before becoming an instructor of mechanical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1985. He was also a White House Fellow in 1989 and 1990, serving as a special assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In 1990, Bostick was assigned to the U.S. Army in Europe in Heidelberg, Germany, and then as an engineer operations staff officer in the First Armored Division in Baumholder and then again in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. He reported to Washington, D.C. in 1993 and served as the executive officer to the Chief of Engineers and then as battalion commander of the 1st Engineer Battalion. Bostick was deployed again from 1997 to 1999 and commanded the Engineer Brigade of the First Armored Division, which included participation in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1999, he was assigned as executive officer to the Chief of Staff of the Army, and served on the Joint Staff during the events of September 11, 2001 in the National Military Command Center. Bostick then deployed to Iraq as assistant division commander, 1st Cavalry Division, before serving as the Commanding General of the Gulf Region Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He later served as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky; and, in 2010, was named director of personnel for the Army in the Pentagon. On May 22, 2012, Bostick became the 53rd U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making him only the second African American to serve in that position.

Bostick’s military honors and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist badge, the Recruiter Badge, and the Ranger Tab. Bostick is also authorized to wear the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

Bostick and his wife, Renee Bostick, live in Washington, D.C. They have one son, Joshua.

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/9/2013

Last Name

Bostick

Maker Category
Middle Name

Paul

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Stanford University

United States Military Academy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Thomas

Birth City, State, Country

Fukuoka

HM ID

BOS02

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monterey, California

Favorite Quote

Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory. - General Douglas MacArthur

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/23/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Japan

Favorite Food

Rice

Short Description

Lieutenant general Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick (1956 - ) was appointed as the 53rd Chief of Engineers and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2012, making him only the second African American to serve in that position.

Employment

United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

United States Army

United States Army Recruiting Command

Delete

Operation Joint Forge, Bosnia-Herzegovina

1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized).

National Military Command Center, J-3, the Joint Staff in the Pentagon

United States Military Academy

Favorite Color

Fire Engine Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:8085,96:8361,101:22190,336:28238,470:31262,537:39395,674:54266,936:54621,942:64086,1160:64456,1166:78725,1388:79025,1393:80900,1441:87804,1544:121050,1985:126580,2023:128794,2076:138174,2218:143518,2273:150480,2380:167222,2658:168275,2676:172002,2693:172500,2700:179984,2809:183536,2866:195323,3011:199535,3114:208542,3240:225975,3498:246110,3800:248766,3838:252940,3873$0,0:9678,126:11810,162:16985,229:18090,245:23329,293:26719,326:27284,332:27736,337:30584,346:35988,407:41232,453:42156,466:43080,477:58464,633:58724,640:64750,689:67640,712:68836,729:69204,734:76600,796:78590,805:81670,852:86829,943:90140,990:90448,995:96614,1037:97982,1060:98270,1065:99422,1084:101006,1114:123760,1335:125440,1358:126320,1371:133460,1446:133852,1451:135028,1466:140249,1530:143028,1549:143364,1554:146865,1590:147369,1604:148440,1622:149196,1632:152826,1647:153138,1652:153762,1662:155556,1697:158480,1729:159131,1734:159596,1740:160433,1753:167220,1828:169628,1864:169972,1869:181245,1977:182265,1991:186345,2055:190340,2138:198842,2203:202118,2249:202454,2254:207660,2277:210108,2319:214460,2348:218018,2379:218326,2385:223562,2474:237350,2614:246290,2716:247490,2738:249010,2761:249330,2766:252507,2799:252823,2804:257813,2855:261109,2899:261521,2904:276166,3067:282137,3149:282801,3158:284212,3182:288230,3217
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas Bostick's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick describes his mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick describes his mother's family background, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick talks about his mother and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick talks about his brother inheriting their father's athletic ability

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick talks about his parents' marriage and personalities, and his five siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Thomas Bostick describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about his father's military service and his academic performance in school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick lists the places he lived during his father's military service and recalls his uncle from Brooklyn

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick discusses re-connecting with his uncle as a cadet at West Point

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick discusses his experiences and education in the places he lived during his father's military service

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick talks about playing sports and breaking his leg on a Boy Scout camping trip in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick recalls his father's retirement from the military and his third grade teacher, Miss Vernon

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick talks about his brother, Anthony, and his high school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about playing sports in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick discusses the reasons for Seaside California's violence and his high school football team

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick talks about his nomination to attend West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick describes his high school's racial demographics and talks about his own racial identity

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick talks about deciding to attend West Point instead of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick talks about deciding to attend West Point instead of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick discusses studying engineering at West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick describes his initial arrival at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about shining his boots at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick talks about what his father thought of him attending West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick talks about his and his wife's different personalities

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick talks about attending ranger school at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick describes how a cheating scandal changed military training and education at West Point, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick describes how a cheating scandal changed military training and education at West Point, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick reflects on how the environment at West Point may have led to the cheating scandal, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick reflects on how the environment at West Point may have led to the cheating scandal, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about the first black graduate of West Point, Henry O. Flipper

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick reflects on his experience as an African American engineer officer

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick talks about his mentors at West Point

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick recalls the selection process for army infantry and engineers, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick recalls the selection process for army infantry and engineers, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick discusses his graduation from West Point in 1978

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick talks about shifts in public support of the U.S. military

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick talks about attitudinal shifts in public support of the U.S. military

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Thomas Bostick talks about deciding to attend West Point instead of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pt.2
Thomas Bostick talks about the first black graduate of West Point, Henry O. Flipper
Transcript
So I had a lot of encouragement from the army; and then my friend Steve Torez (ph.) came by the high school and I said "Steve, I'm really struggling; I think I wanna go to the Air Force Academy but what's West Point like?" He said "Don't come to West Point." And he was a (unclear), you know, so (laughter)--which means he was in his first year, so he's getting abused like all get-out (laughter). And, and I remember sitting there in the quad at Seaside High School eating lunch, and he and I are speaking; I remember it really well because a seagull flew over and went to the bathroom right on my hand, right here (DEMONSRATION) (laughter), you know, somethin' dropped from the sky on my hand, so it was one of those moments that I'll never forget, and him telling me not to come. So I had him telling me not to come, and you know you trust your peers; the generals and the colonels and the sergeant majors telling me to come--my heart really wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and the Air Force finally sent somebody; they sent a guy that had gone to Air Force ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], and my mom [Fumiko Mary Taira Bostick] put this white lace on the dining room table. She had a cup of coffee and he had this slide show of the Air Force Academy, and he said "One of the things you need to understand, Tom, is that the Air Force Academy is really hard; I mean it's very demanding." And he said "It's an all-male school," and he said "If you want other things like to have--not as demanding, but just go to a school that you have--you could go to ROTC; you know, if you want a social life, that's kind of what I went through." And I'm sitting here saying "You're supposed to be talking me into the Air Force Academy, not talking to me about ROTC." And then he reached for the coffee and knocked it over (laughter) on my mom's white lace and, and I said "Gosh." So I sat and I stewed from February until the fifth of May; the fifth of May I think was the last date you had to decide, and I, I just decided to go to West Point. I, I, I liked the history, I, I liked the people that had gone through there and, and, and I knew--it seemed comforting, they had reached out to me, and--years later I would tell my recruiters because it turned the other way with my son [Joshua Bostick]; my son was born when I was at Stanford [University], going to grad school, and then we went to West Point to teach. And when my son was this small (DEMONSTRATION), he was, he was gonna be a cadet at West Point; he was--that's where he was going. And then between junior and senior year, he went to the cadet camp up there in--it's a week-long school, maybe two weeks, and about thirty percent of the kids that go to that end up going to West Point. He got accepted early, Valedictorian of his class, and captain of the golf team and did very well in school; great SAT scores, and he really didn't have anyone reaching out to him from West Point and I didn't know if they were expecting me to do that; I think a captain called him once, but other than that, there was no one reaching out. And then Stanford asked--said "Hey, we'll pay for your plane ticket to fly out to Stanford. We, we got a week of, you know, scheduled classes and we want you to this, we want you to live in the dorms and--" you know, so they wined and dined him and he ended up going to Stanford. And, again it reinforced to me the importance of continuing to reach out, not forcing but mentoring youngsters because they're really to decide--and reaching out to their parents. So as the Head of Recruiting Command, I realized from my own personal experiences and watching my son go through the same thing how important that constant mentoring, not over-burdening them and, and not being oppressive in, in the presence and the encouragement but at least showing that you really care.$Okay, so considering how tough [United States Academy at] West Point is period, and how would a person like Henry O. Flipper, back in the Nineteenth Century, the first black graduate of West Point, have made it? Now he's one of your heroes, an engineer as well, right?$$Well, I think for all Americans, Henry O. Flipper is a great role model of persistence, of leadership, of character, and whether you're African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, or any ethnicity or gender, he represents someone that, that graduated from West Point during a very difficult time for him and really was a, a role model for many of us. I, I can't say that I could even partially appreciate how difficult it must have been for him because a lot of what happens at West Point during my day in once success is really based on partnership and team work with your peers; you study together, you, you, you drill together, you spend time away together but, but it's a family and, and to be any place where you feel like you're alone, I, I, I can't even begin to partially imagine what that would be like, and then to get through it and be successful and then to have what happened to him in the military I think sends a strong statement of the strength of the human character of Henry O. Flipper. I did get a sense of what it might have been like, I'd say in just a partial way, by watching the first females come to West Point. I was there when our superintendent and many leaders at the Academy voiced their opinions, very strong opinions, that women should not come to West Point for a variety of reasons, and then when the decision was made that they would come, we were intent on making the women at West Point the best of all the academies. But that being said, it was very, very difficult for those first women, and some of my class mates and other males were, were thrown outta West Point for their behavior against those women who were the pioneers of Women Service Academy graduates. And when you look back at the women and what they've done, from lieutenants up to general officers and the All-American athletes, Rhodes Scholars, number one in the class at West Point, you name it--all the different things that, that women have done, it makes you regret the many years that we lost and think about what could have happened with leaders, with athletes, what scholars we could have had had that, that law been changed earlier. So, so the good news is we've, we've transitioned, we've come a long way; but in my mind, we still have a very long way to go, a very long way to go. My--I, I never thought about this until years later as I, I would look around the room myself, as an African American engineer, that there were not many African American engineers coming outta West Point. And then I looked at the four years that I was there, and this is the number one institution in the world in my mind, and in many others. But I was the only one in my class and there were none in '77' [1977], there were two in '76' [1976], and there were none in '75' [1975]. So 4,000 or so graduates plus or minus a few hundred, and the number one engineering institution produces three Corps of Engineer Officers that are African American.

Col. Christine Knighton

U.S. Army Colonel Christine B. Knighton was born in Cuthbert, Georgia in 1957. After graduating from Randolph County Comprehensive High School in 1975, she attended Tuskegee Institute and graduated with military honors in 1979. Knighton’s military education includes the Aviation Officer Advanced Course, the UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Qualification Course, the Combined Arms Staff and Services School, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Knighton also received her M.A. degree in national security and strategy from the National War College at National Defense University.

Upon graduation from college, Knighton was commissioned a second lieutenant and served briefly in the Quartermaster Corps and the Transportation Officer’s Corps. In 1980, she became the second African American woman in the U.S. Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia to complete aviation training. Knighton then reported to the U.S. Army V Corps in West Germany where her assignments included that of flight section leader of the 205th Transportation Battalion; platoon leader of the 62nd Aviation Company; and logistics officer of the 11th Aviation Battalion. In 1988, she assumed command of Delta Company, the 227th Aviation Regiment – 1st Cavalry’s Combat Aviation Company, and then served a tour of duty at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division as the Aviation Brigade logistics officer.

Knighton reported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1990 and was assigned as an aviation logistician for the Combat Structure for the Army Study Group. She then was deployed to Operation Desert Storm with the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) to assess aviation units positioned in Saudi, Kuwait and Iraq. In 1993, Knighton was appointed as commander of Hotel Company in the 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM) and deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia in support of the United Nations “Operation Continue Hope.” Knighton became the first woman in the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion on November 3, 1996 when she was assigned as commander of a Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion in the 1st Cavalry Division and deployed to Tulza, Bosnia-Herzegovina to conduct aviation operations.

Knighton is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Tuskegee Airmen Association, and served as vice president of the Bessie Coleman Foundation. Knighton was nationally recognized by Glamour Magazinein 1989 as one of its “Top 10 Outstanding Working Women in the United States” and appeared on the cover of USA Today. In 1999, Knighton’s Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion was named U.S. Army Aviation Unit of the Year. Her military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Army’s Senior Aviator Badge. Knighton is also authorized to wear the Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff Badge, and received the Order of Saint Michael which recognized outstanding contributions to U.S. Army Aviation.

U.S. Army Colonel Christine B. Knighton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers in July 26, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.187

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/26/2013

Last Name

Knighton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Schools

The Broad Academy

Georgetown University

U.S. Army War College

Randolph County Comprehensive High School

Tuskegee University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Christine

Birth City, State, Country

Benevolence

HM ID

KNI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/23/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes

Short Description

Colonel Col. Christine Knighton (1957 - ) , the second African American woman in the U.S. Department of Defense and the first woman from the State of Georgia to complete aviation training, became the first woman in the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion on November 3, 1996.

Employment

Soldier Support Institute

2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, Blackhawk Helicopter Battalion

Army Personnel Command

Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment (AVIM)

8th Aviation Battalion (AVIM), 101st Airborne Division

Aviation Requirements for the Combat Structure for the Army (ARCSA-V) Study Group

United States Army

1st Cavalry Division’s Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Company (AVIM

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Christine Knighton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton describes the town of Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her mother's growing up in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes her father's growing up in Georgia, his migration to Philadelphia, and his towing business in New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton describes how her parents met, and talks about their relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about her maternal grandfather going from sharecropper to landowner in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about the first home that her maternal family bought and the lack of amenities in the South during the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about President John F. Kennedy's assassination a few days before her own and Caroline Kennedy's sixth birthday

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about her maternal grandparents' home in Benevolence, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Benevolence, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Benevolence, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about starting school in Stewart County, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about her family's first television set, and riding the bus to elementary school in Lupton, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about visiting her father in Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton recalls Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in middle school in Cuthbert, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about state-funded colleges in Georgia while she was growing up, and attending college in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in high school in Cuthbert, Georgia, and her interest in home economics

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about the Knighton family's talent for basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about her performance in high school and her decision to attend Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton talks about being accepted to Tuskegee Institute, and her first visit to the campus with her family

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about the integration of schools in the seventh grade in Cuthbert, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her decision to join the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about Lionel Ritchie's relationship with Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in classes at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in the Army ROTC at Tuskegee Institute, and her training for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton describes her desire to go to flight school in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her branch transfer to the U.S. Army Transportation Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about flying helicopters, and doing Ground School Training with Chief Alfred C. Anderson

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton describes her experience at primary flight training

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton describes her experience as an African American woman in advanced flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about the Bell Huey helicopter and her experience flying them

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about graduating from flight school and attending the Tuskegee Airmen Convention in Atlanta in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment to the Fifth Corps at Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about her colleague Marcella Ng's career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about her reassignment to the 11th Aviation Battalion and her promotion to the ranks of first lieutenant and captain

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment as the Battalion S4 in the 11th Aviation Battalion

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton describes her experience in the 1st Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton describes her experience as an Aviation Brigade Logistics Officer with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about her tour in Korea in 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her service during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about the challenges posed by a desert environment during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about women serving in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about the living conditions for military service members during the Gulf War

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about Scud missiles used by the Iraqis during the Gulf War, and their eventual surrender

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about women serving in combat missions and the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton talks about her service with the 101st Airborne Division

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton talks about her assignment as Company Commander of Hotel Company, 159th Aviation Regiment in Somalia

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about her service at the Army Personnel Command as the assignments officer for Aviation majors and lieutenant colonels

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about getting married and starting a family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about becoming the first woman in the history of the U.S. Army to command a tactical combat arms battalion

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton talks about the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation being selected as the Army's Aviation Unit of the Year

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her service as Assistant Director of Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton talks about attending the Army War College

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton talks about becoming a full colonel and her experience in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton reflects upon lessons learned from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Christine Knighton talks about the Army Married Couples Program, and her assignment to Fort Jackson, South Carolina

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton talks about the changes in policy that allowed women to serve in Ground Combat

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton talks about her service as Chief Learning Officer for the Army Officer Corps

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton talks about retiring from the U.S. Army and attending a Superintendents Training Program

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Christine Knighton describes her service as Chief of Human Resources for Prince George's County Public Schools

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Christine Knighton talks about her experience in leadership coaching and executive coaching

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Christine Knighton describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Christine Knighton reflects upon her life and career

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Christine Knighton reflects upon the large percentage of African American women joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Christine Knighton reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Christine Knighton talks about her family and about balancing her family needs with that of her career

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Christine Knighton discusses her concerns about the legacy of African American women in aviation

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Christine Knighton shares how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Christine Knighton describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Christine Knighton describes her desire to go to flight school in the U.S. Army
Christine Knighton recalls her experience at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, pt. 1
Transcript
So, you were assigned as a Second Lieutenant in the [U.S. Army] Quartermaster Corps, right?$$Right. Exactly. So when I got commissioned--when you are in the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], you have to choose your branch at the beginning of your senior year. You choose your preferences for a branch. What do you want to do and what do you want to be. And, you know, so by this time, we had cadre at Tuskegee [Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama], which was a first for us. We had some white cadre members. So, this was new, I think in my junior year is when we got our first Commission Officer, Caucasian instructor, right. And we still keep in contact today, right. He was an Army aviator, right. Our PMS, Professor of Military Science was an Army aviator, and we also had another instructor that was--black instructor that was an Army aviator also.$$Now, wait a minute. Now, did they influence you to (laughs)--$$Oh, yeah. Yeah. (laughs)$$--think about aviation?$$Right. Well, what influenced me, when I went to summer camp--you mentioned summer camp, which was at Fort Riley, Kansas, is where we went to summer camp, and that, for me, that was the first time I would have gone--gotten on a commercial airline, right, exactly. So Columbus, Georgia, to Atlanta [Georgia] was one of the small aircraft, right. And I swore I would never get back in an aircraft again if I ever got my feet on the ground just because of the turbulence, right, from Columbus to Atlanta, right. Much larger plane, of course, going into Kansas City, Missouri, out of Atlanta, right, had a much smoother ride, so, okay; we may be able to do this. But at summer camp we were introduced, you know, different branches, right, the artillery, you know, the infantry, which females couldn't go into at that time; but you got an introduction of all the other branches, right. And I got my first ride on a helicopter, right, which was the Chinook CH-47, in the back of that helicopter. So by the time summer camp was over, I came back, and I told my mom [Annie Lee Knighton] I wanted to go to flight school. And she was like, "Okay. This is the person who was not going to get back on the airplane in Atlanta." (laughs) Right. Exactly Right. "And you're telling me now that you want to fly?" Yeah. Exactly. So she said, "If that's something you want to do, then you need to go for it, you know, do it." So with her encouragement, right, and her thumbs up, or seal of approval--when it came to selecting branches, we had--they also said, "Well, what additional training do you want?" And at time, aviation was a branch. It was an additional skill identifier, right, just like airborne. So, "Who wants to go to airborne school? Who wants to do this and who wants to go to flight school?" So when the flight school--when he asked for flight school, my hand went up, right. And everybody else was like, yeah, right (laughs). Exactly. So you would think with the Tuskegee Airmen coming out of Tuskegee you would have had more hands going up. But I think you did on the Air Force ROTC side, just not on the Army ROTC side, yeah, 'cause most people wanted to fly, kind of wanted Air Force ROTC. Right. So, right, the instructor, Major Marshal Ed (ph.) said, "Hey, Ms. Knighton, I need you to stay afterwards." And so I stayed afterwards, and he says, "Don't waste my time." (laughs) Right. "If this is something that you really want to do, you know, I'll help you and we'll pursue it. But, you know, if you're not serious about it, then don't waste my time." So I didn't waste his time.$$Okay. Now history has shown that you have not wasted his time.$$Right (laughs).$Okay, so were you in the Pentagon on 9-11 [September 11th, 2001; terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, and the U.S. Pentagon]?$$I was in the Pentagon on 9-11; yes, I was.$$Okay.$$Right.$$Tell us your story, what happened?$$I had come to work on, you know, September 11th, just like, you know, every other day. We had--but you know, Tre wasn't--yeah, Tre was still in pre-school then, so he wasn't in school actually. So, right. Every year before that, you know, every year, when--before then, we would visit my in-laws and my dad [Clarence Brown, Sr.] in New Jersey, and we always spent some time in New York. So we had just left the World Trade Center, like, the week before, right, Labor Day Weekend, right, exactly, you know, just doing our normal New York out-and-about touring. So that day was like any other day; come to work, right, at the Pentagon, right, go to your cubicle, drop your stuff; and on this particular day I had a dental appointment, right. So I left my desk, right, went to--was going to my dental appointment, right, was walking by the lab and they had the television on, and you see smoke coming from the World Trade Center. So, you know, I kind of stopped, you know, like, "Okay. Are they showing from the World Trade Center from when, you know, the bomb--." There was a bomb that had gone off there earlier, right, like, a year or so before, right. And then I see 'Live'. This is CNN live. So, it's like, no, this is happening right now. So I go on to my dental appointment, right, and I'm like, you know, the television is on back there, and I'm like, "Oh, my God, you know, what just happened?" And so at this time you didn't know what type of plane had hit the building, so you're thinking maybe it was something smaller than a commercial jetliner. Right, but the commentator is saying--is "No, it was larger than a private plane. It was actually a commercial jetliner. I heard the noise of the plane." Right. And that's what got my attention because we don't have those size planes going, you know, flying over the city. And so my thoughts were, you know, I hope it's not terrorism. And I communicated that to the lady behind the counter, and she's like, "You think it would be terrorism?" But everyone, I think, after [Timothy] McVeigh, and what happened in Oklahoma City [bombing], right, when everyone jumped to the conclusion that it was terrorism right away--nobody wanted to do that because it could have been domestic in nature. So I think everybody was very sensitive about calling stuff terrorism, right, exactly, before you could validate it. And so I said, you know, hey, this is--this is not good. And so I go and I start filling out this--and I--in the meantime, I called my husband [Bennie Williams, Jr.] saying, "Hey, go turn on the television." I called back to my office and said, "You guys need to go next door to the conference room, turn the television on, a plane just flew into the side of, you know, one of the buildings at the World Trade Center." And then I go to filling out my form. And at the same time with the ear on the television, and you hear, "Oh, my God, oh, my God. Here comes another one." Right. And that was where we witnessed on television a second plane flying into the second building. Right. And you're thinking, like, this is probably not a good time to be in a government facility or government building right now, right. But operations continued. This was a short--this was just an annual checkup. I wasn't getting any dental work done. So it's like, okay, let me get this out of the way so I can get back to my building. So I--and I was talking to the dentist, and I'm like, "You know, all right, I think, you know, that this is, you know deliberate. I think that there are more buildings that probably are going to come under attack," not knowing that the Pentagon was a target, right. "And it probably would be a good idea to evacuate government facilities right now." And he's like, "You think so?" (laughs). Yeah. I was like, "Yeah, I think so. Right. I was like, "Well, hurry up so I can get out of here." Right. So we finish up my appointment, and I'm headed back out, and there's a nurse running down the hall, it's like, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. You guys didn't hear." And I said, "Hear what?" Because the dental clinic is kind of underground, right, in the Pentagon, so you wouldn't hear what happens on the other side of the building. And she says, "We're evacuating the building." I'm like, okay. Good idea. I was like, well, let me go back to my office 'cause my cell phone is there, my purse is there. All I had was my Pentagon badge, right, you know, no head gear or nothing, right, 'cause I was in the--I'm in the building. All right. So I get ready to go back out and the Security Guard is saying, "Nope. Everybody go this way." Right. "Go this way." And, you know, at this time, I'm still thinking we're evacuating because of a precaution. And then there was this lady runs by me and she is like, you know, smoke, right, the clothes are dirty and the whole works, and she's hyperventilating, and I'm like, you know, "What just happened?" And she says, a bomb went off on the other side of the building." Right. Right. So that was my first indication that the Pentagon had actually been hit as we were exiting the building, right.

Gen. William Ward

U.S. Army General William E. Ward was born on June 3, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Morgan State University and graduated with his B.A. degree in Political Science in 1971. While there, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and as a Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG) was commissioned as an Infantry Second Lieutenant in 1971. In 1979, Ward received his M.A. degree in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University. He then went on to attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.

Ward’s military service has included overseas tours in Korea, Egypt, Somalia, Bosnia, Israel, two tours in Germany, and a wide variety of assignments in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. His command and troop assignments include: Commander of 5th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 2nd Brigade at Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Commander of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York and during Operation Restore Hope in Mogadishu, Somalia; Assistant Division Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Commanding General 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army in Hawaii at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii; Commander of the Stabilization Force during Operation Joint Forge in Sarajevo, Bosnia; and Deputy Commander U.S. European Command. His staff assignments include: Executive Officer to the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C.; Deputy Director for Operations of the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C.; Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation with Egypt in the American Embassy in Egypt; and Vice Director for Operations of the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C.

In 2005, Ward served as the Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Europe and the Seventh Army. While in this capacity, he was selected by the Secretary of State to serve as the United States Security Coordinator, Israel-Palestinian Authority where he served from March of 2005 through December of 2005. Ward served as the inaugural Commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany from October 1, 2007 to March 8, 2011. Ward is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the 100 Black Men of America, and the National Society of Pershing Rifles. He is also an honorary member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy club and was awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Morgan State University and Virginia State University.

Ward’s military honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Defense Superior Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Legion of Merit with Three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with Six Oak Leaf Clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters); the Army Achievement Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Expert Infantryman's Badge, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, and the Master Parachutist Badge.

Ward currently serves as the President and COO of SENTEL Corporation.

U.S. Army General William E. Ward was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.180

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/25/2013

Last Name

Ward

Maker Category
Middle Name

E.

Occupation
Schools

Morgan State University

Pennsylvania State University

Army Command and General Staff College

U.S. Army War College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

WAR16

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Improve The Foxhole.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/3/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peanut Butter

Short Description

General Gen. William Ward (1949 - ) Commander of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division during Operation Restore Hope in Mogadishu, Somalia, Commander 25th Infantry Division, Commander of the Stabilization Force during Operation Joint Forge in Sarajevo, Bosnia, US Security Coordinator in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the inaugural Commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany from 2007 to 2011. He currently serves as the President of SENTEL Corp.

Employment

United States Army

Stabilization Force, Operation Joint Forge

25th Infantry Division

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gen. William Ward's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward talks about his maternal grandfather's upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward talks about his mother's upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward talks about his mother's education and her employment at the Social Security Administration

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward talks about his father's employment and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gen. William Ward talks about his father's service as a combat engineer in World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gen. William Ward describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gen. William Ward describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gen. William Ward talks about his sister, Christina Ward Young

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Gen. William Ward talks about his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Gen. William Ward describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Gen. William Ward describes the neighborhood where he grew up in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward talks about his father building their family's home in Baltimore County, Maryland, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward talks about his father building their family's home in Baltimore County, Maryland, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward talks about the community's interest in sports in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward talks about the community's interest in doo wop music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience in the first grade in Baltimore County, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience in an integrated school system in the 1950s, and his family instilling self-confidence in him

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward talks about his interests in elementary school as well as the schools he attended

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward talks about his exposure to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward talks about his experience in elementary school in Towson, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward talks about his interests while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward reflects about his non-military oriented childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward talks about attending junior high school in the early 1960s, and meeting his wife in college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward talks about his interest in political science, playing football, and running track in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward talks about being employed in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gen. William Ward talks about his social experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gen. William Ward talks about the poor career counseling that he received in high school, and his decision to attend Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward describes his decision to attend Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward describes his graduation from Towson Senior High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward talks about his desire to become a lawyer while studying at Morgan State University, pt 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward talks about the influence of his teachers, Maxwell and Sandye Jean McIntyre, at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward talks about his desire to become a lawyer while studying at Morgan State University, pt 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward talks about the reaction in Baltimore, Maryland, to Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward talks about being employed in college, and his experience in the political science department at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience in the ROTC program at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gen. William Ward talks about historian Benjamin Quarles and the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gen. William Ward talks about getting married and being commissioned into active duty in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army in 1971

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward talks about General Daniel "Chappie" James and General Benjamin Oliver Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience on his first commission to the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, where he became a platoon leader

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward discusses disciplinary challenges within the U.S. Army during the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward discusses his assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea in 1974

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as a lieutenant in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward talks about becoming a captain, going to graduate school, and teaching at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward talks about his experience in the advanced infantry career course

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward talks about the Korean axe murder incident in 1976

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward describes his decision to attend graduate school at Penn State University, and to teach at the United States Military Academy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as an assistant professor of social sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward describes how he became Commander of the 5th Battalion, 9th Infantry

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as Commander of the 5th Battalion, 9th Infantry in Fort Wainwright, Alaska

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward talks about being selected for colonel, and becoming the brigade commander of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division in 1992

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience with the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division during relief efforts after Hurricane Andrew in 1992

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as part of the U.N. relief mission in Somalia in 1992

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward discusses the Battle of Mogadishu and Somali Civil War, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward discusses the Battle of Mogadishu and Somali Civil War, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward talks about his experience as the Executive Officer to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward talks about his experience as the Deputy Director for Operations in the National Military Command Center

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward describes the ceremony where he was promoted to become a brigadier general in 1996

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as Assistant Division Commander for Support at Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Cairo, Egypt

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward talks about his assignment as the commander of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward talks about his assignment as the Vice Director for Operations on the Joint Staff and after the 9/11 attack

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward talks about his principle of "improving the foxhole," and his experience at the Pentagon after 9/11

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as Commander of the NATO Force in Bosnia

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience as United States Security Coordinator between the Israeli and Palestinian authority

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward talks about his service as the deputy commander of EUCOM and as the inaugural commander of AFRICOM

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward talks about the formation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward talks about the goals for the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward discusses the initial apprehension towards the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward discusses the initial reactions to his appointment as commander of AFRICON

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward describes his experience in Africa as the commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward describes the highlights of his service as the inaugural commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward talks about his engineering leadership experience in the U.S. Army, and receiving the Black Engineer of the Year Award in 2010

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Gen. William Ward discusses his retirement from the U.S. Army

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Gen. William Ward talks about his life after retirement

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Gen. William Ward reflects upon his life and career

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Gen. William Ward talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Gen. William Ward describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Gen. William Ward reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Gen. William Ward talks about a lesson of accountability from his service in Korea

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Gen. William Ward talks about his team philosophy

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Gen. William Ward narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
William E. Ward talks about his interests while growing up
William E. Ward describes the ceremony where he was promoted to become a brigadier general in 1996
Transcript
Okay, now, in light of the fact that you achieved the rank of Four-Star General, were you exhibiting, or did you have--where did you exhibit leadership as a young fellow, growing up? I mean, I know you played sports. But were you in the Boy Scouts or were you in church organizations or, you know--How did you display, you know--?$$Yeah, I think I was--I was a Cub Scout for two years. And then I stopped that. And I don't recall exactly why, but I did stop that. You know, in my little community where we lived, there were probably six or seven of us guys, you know. And we would always play, you know, three-on-three, or four-on-three, football, basketball. I played Little League baseball. And I think, you know, neighborhood activity where we lived--before we moved into our house once my dad [Richard Isiah Ward] finished it--You know, we would do little organized games there, organized--I call them playground sports. Did a lot of that. I think that was my biggest, I guess, set of activities--the largest set of activities I engaged in that would later on culminate into what I eventually did. The YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association], you know, that's where I learned to swim, at the YMCA. You know I'd get on a bus and go downtown in Baltimore [Maryland] by myself to the YMCA on Saturdays and engage in the programs that the YMCA offered. My mom [Phyllis cashen Ward] wanted me--dad wanted me to do that. And I think that's probably the biggest thing. I did sing in a little church choir. But so did a lot of other guys. Obviously, we all did that. So, those are probably the most substantial things. There's really nothing about my childhood, quite frankly, that would automatically point to "Hey, this guy always wants to take charge and be in charge." That wasn't the case at all. I don't think that was, you know, something that was inherent in who I was, you know--anytime I'd get involved in something, I'm going to take charge, I'm in charge. (laughter) That wasn't it. You know--$$Okay. So, you couldn't spot you as a little general.$$No, no. Now, I did like to, you know, I think I've always been pretty organized. I mean, and I've got a cousin who will talk about me playing with little, you know, toy soldiers and things of that sort. I can recall, I used to play with trucks a lot, you know, and what not. In fact, I think, you know, as a youngster, one of the things that I talked about mostly was, you know, I liked to drive trucks, you know. I just was fascinated with trucks.$And being made Brigadier General in '96 [1996]. Now this, this is a big deal. I mean it's a big deal, I think, and we shouldn't gloss over it. What kind of a ceremony is it, and did your parents [Phyllis Cashen Ward and Richard Isiah Ward] get a chance to come in?$$My dad did not. My dad was too ill to make it. My mom was there, and obviously all the rest of my family. But the ceremony was a pretty special one. It was conducted by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who was my boss. And done there in the Pentagon. A host of friends who I've known my entire life--family. And I think as I was delivering my comments--Once I'd been promoted, you know, I was evoking my dad. Because a lot, you know, certainly who I am and who I was on that day for sure, was reflective of who he was as a man and what I'd learned from him. And so I really was, you know, evoking all that. He was too ill at the time to be there, though. But I clearly made sure everyone knew that, you know, he clearly was a part of my life that was responsible for me having achieved what I had achieved. And basically, because of what he taught me about how to treat people. Because of--not what he said to me, but what I saw him do, and how I saw him treat people. And then clearly, you know, you acknowledge--you know, your family. And my wife [Joyce Lewis] and kids, you know, my mom's sister and aunts, uncles and cousins, and also friends. But the important--you know, the teammates that I served with over those years--the non-commissioned officers [NCOs], the soldiers, all those folks who have been a part of my experiences in my various units, and what they had done to help the teams that I've been a part of, to be successful. And by acknowledging all of that, it was a big part of it. So, yeah, it's a big deal. It's a big deal, a huge step. One that--you know, when I look back on my days at Morgan [State University, Baltimore, Maryland], even my days as a lieutenant in the 82nd [Airborne Division], you're never thinking that you would achieve that, because clearly I didn't. I know there are some who say, yeah, I just did all these things. But, just never me. I mean, things happen over time and you get selected for a school, and you do it well. And you're able to command a formation. And that happens because you have some great teammates. So, yes, giving thanks for all that. You know, and certainly you're being thankful to the Almighty for all the care that he's provided as you go through all the stages. I talked about being in these various assignments, in Korea. You know, being so cold in Korea as a young captain walking those ridges, checking on my people--I think I'm going to die, I'm so cold. You can't feel your feet, your hands, your ears. Just absolutely, just chilling, chilling cold. You know, being in Germany there before the Cold War hit, you know, there in that mechanized brigade--Knowing that if something happens and the war goes off, your first line is to move, is to march east to stop the invaders that are coming from the east. And you're there, you know, training and preparing for that. You know, in Somalia, as a brigade commander--you know, doing what I did there--knowing that anytime you go out on this mission, you send your soldiers out, you know, they may not come back. You go out, and you're just as vulnerable as they are. And so, when you look at those experiences and you say to yourself, well, why is it that you get through it? Well, you train for it. You have teammates that you count on, that you can depend on, those old stories that you've heard about so much, you know. Why do you do this? You do this for your buddy to your left and to your right. And that is the same true echelon. It doesn't matter how senior you are, or how junior you are. I can recall being in Somalia on one occasion there. And I had a, you know, my driver and my vehicle and, you know a security guard had a machine gun. And we're both under this Humvee, you know, being shot at. And he looks at me, and I look at him. And I said, "I sure hope that machine gun you got got bullets in it." He said, "Sir, this got bullets, and I hope that rifle you got has bullets." "I got bullets, too." He said, "Well, we're both in this thing together." So, that, when you get in those types of situations, it doesn't matter what rank you are, you're still a human being first and foremost. And so, you apply that to all that you do. First and foremost, you start off with human beings. So when I got that, you know, that star--And I'll always remember, I had received a gift from a good friend. And he kind of described to me the points of that star, what each of them meant. And I kind of took that--I said, that's right. This star doesn't belong to Kip Ward. This star belongs to everyone who's been responsible for what Kip Ward is. And each point belongs to one of them. And I talk about my family, my teammates, my God--those things that have contributed to me receiving the star. And then the final one was mine. When you look at it, you know, this star belongs to the combination of all these people--all these events that have gone on in your career to enable you to have achieved this particular milestone. And so, and that's the way I thought about every one of them, you know. Every one--I say these aren't mine. These belong to those who I've been fortunate enough to serve with, and have been fortunate enough and blessed enough so that, you know, the things that I have done have contributed to making the team better. And in doing the best that I could do, to cause what they have done, to make them better as well. And that's what it's about for me. And so, that first ceremony, that first promotion that I had as a brigadier general, that's--those were the things that were, you know, flooding through my mind at that point in time.$$Okay.

Brig. Gen. Leo Brooks, Jr.

Brigadier General (Ret.) Leo A. Brooks, Jr. was born on August 15, 1957 in Anchorage, Alaska. His father, Leo A. Brooks, Sr., was an Army Brigadier General; his mother, Naomi, was a schoolteacher. Brooks’ younger brother, Vincent K. Brooks, served as a Four Star General in the U.S. Army; his sister, Marquita, a lawyer. After graduating from Jesuit high school in Sacramento, California in 1975, Brooks enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point and received his B.S. degree in engineering in 1979.

Brooks began his military career with the 101st Airborne Division, and served in developmental positions from platoon leader to infantry company commander. From 1984 to 1988, Brooks was assigned to the 1st Battalion 75th Infantry Ranger Regiment as a logistics officer and then as Commander of A Company. He was then deployed to Korea where he served on the Joint Staff of the Combined Forces Command. While there he earned his M.A. degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1990. In 1992, Brooks completed the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Brooks then reported to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for duty with the 82nd Airborne Division where he was assigned as executive officer in the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and then became deputy operations officer of the Division. He was subsequently selected to serve as aide-de-camp to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1993-1995. Brooks returned to the 82nd Airborne Division and was named Commander of the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, followed by a key staff assignment as Chief of Operations for the XVIII Airborne Corps. He completed the U.S. Army War College in 1999 and returned a third time to the 82nd Airborne Division and assumed command of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Following command, he was selected for Brigadier General and deployed to Europe as Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division in 2001. In 2002, Brooks was appointed the 68th Commandant of Cadets at West Point. Brooks then reported to the Office of the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon where he served as Vice Director of Army Staff until retiring in 2006. He went on to become Vice President of National Security & Space Group for the Boeing Company in Washington, D.C.

Brooks was a senior fellow from the Maxwell School of Government at Syracuse University; and has an honorary law degree from the New England School of Law, Boston. His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Medal and Bronze Star, the War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Multinational Force and Observers Medal and the Korea Defense Service Medal.

U.S. Army Brigadier General (Ret.) Leo A. Brooks, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 23, 2013

Accession Number

A2013.168

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/23/2013

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Syracuse University

U.S. Army War College

University of Oklahoma

United States Military Academy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leo

Birth City, State, Country

Anchorage

HM ID

BRO54

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alaska

Favorite Vacation Destination

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Favorite Quote

I'll help you if you let me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/15/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken Tenders

Short Description

Brigadier general Brig. Gen. Leo Brooks, Jr. (1957 - ) graduated from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point and served in several command assignments; including as the Commander of airborne brigades in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions; the Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division in Germany; and, the Commandant of Cadets at the USMA.

Employment

Boeing Company

United States Army

United States Military Academy

1st Armored Division, United States Army Europe

82nd Airborne Division, United States Army

XVIII Airborne Corps

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leo Brooks, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his mother's growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, her education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his family's interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his father's growing up in Virginia, and his family's education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his parents dating while at Virginia State College and getting married after his mother graduated from college

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his uncle, Jimmy Lewis' career in basketball, and his family's induction into the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. discusses his father's retirement from the U.S. military

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his father's assignment in Anchorage, Alaska

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his early childhood in Xenia, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. recalls his preschool in Xenia, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his father leaving for Vietnam, and his memories of living in Arlington, Virginia in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his childhood at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his life in Bryn Mawr Park, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Leo Brooks, Jr. recalls the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his close-knit family and spending time with them in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his teacher, Ms. Adeline Waters, in elementary school, and being mischievous

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his interest in sports, playing football in high school, and his football idol, Larry Brown

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his experience as an athlete in high school and the support he received from his family

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his family's move to Sacramento, California where he continued to play football

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his high school in Sacramento, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. discusses the influence of sports on his military career

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the influence of his football coaches

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the influence of his track coaches in training him

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his academics in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his decision to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his decision to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about graduating from high school in Sacramento, his trip to West Point Military Academy, and his uncle's advice

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes the challenges he faced at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the bond between the athletes at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about being criticized at West Point, and proving his leadership skills at Camp Buckner

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about West Point's honor code and the Academy's admission of women

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about with West Point's honor code violations and the Borman Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his sophomore year at the United States Military Academy at West Point and his mentors there

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about attending Ranger School and Airborne School, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about attending Ranger School and Airborne School, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about staying involved in athletics at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his brother, Vincent Brooks, joining him at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his playing rugby in his sophomore year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his love for the game

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his academic, athletic and leadership successes at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about graduating from West Point in 1979, his friend, Lloyd Darlington, and his surrogate mother, Bobby Pollock

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the challenges faced within the U.S. Army in the 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the turnaround of the U.S. Army in the 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about becoming the platoon leader of B Company in the 1st Battalion, 503 Infantry, 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his disciplinary philosophy as the platoon leader of B Company in the 1st Battalion, 503 Infantry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about attending Air Assault School and his assignment as aide-de-camp to the Assistant Division Commander for Operations

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his appointment as a company commander and other black infantry company commanders

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about attending Infantry Officer Advance Course with his brother

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about attending the U.S. Army Jumpmaster School and his assignment to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as a Ranger company commander, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as a Ranger company commander, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his assignment in Korea, and the birth of his four daughters

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about attending Command and General Staff College in the early 1990s

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience in the 82nd Airborne Division

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his assignment as the aide-de-camp of the chief of staff of the U.S. Army

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as the aide-de-camp of the chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Gordon R. Sullivan, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as the aide-de-camp of the chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Gordon R. Sullivan, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his experience as the commander of the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and other significant commands

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon the high percentage of African Americans in the United States armed services

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about becoming a lieutenant colonel, serving as chief of operations for the 18th Airborne Corps and attending the Army War College

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about being selected to become a brigade commander in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his assignment as the special assistant to the commanding general, 1st Armor Division in Germany

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as the special assistant to the commanding general, 1st Armor Division in Germany

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while he was serving with the 1st Armor Division in Germany

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes the U.S. Army's plans for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about being assigned as the chief of staff of the Fifth Corps in Europe, and reassigned as the commandant of cadets at West Point

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as the commandant of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes he roles of the superintendent, the dean and the commandant of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as the commandant of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the challenges at West Point while he was the commandant of cadets

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about international students at West Point

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his faith in the role of the Army chaplains

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon his disciplinary philosophy of commanding positions in the U.S. Army

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon the high ethical standards and moral codes of the U.S. military and the obligation of all citizens to serve their country

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon some of the challenging rules and regulations of the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon issues of sexual harassment in the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. discusses his role as the commandant of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Leo Brooks, Jr. discusses the history of African American cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his service as the vice director of the Army staff, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his service as the vice director of the Army staff, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2006 and working as the vice president of Army Systems at the Boeing Company

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about Apache Block III helicopters and his work as vice president of Army Systems at the Boeing Company

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his position as the vice president of the National Security and Space Group at the Boeing Company

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Leo Brooks, Jr. shares his message to the youth

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon his life and career

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his daughters

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about his youngest daughter, Amanda

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Leo Brooks, Jr. reflects upon his professional legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Leo Brooks, Jr. acknowledges the support of his family and his faith in God

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
Leo Brooks, Jr. talks about the influence of his football coaches
Leo Brooks, Jr. describes his experience as a Ranger company commander, pt. 1
Transcript
What about coaches and such? I mean were they mentors or--$$So, so when I was in--I'll go back, if you don't mind, I'll go back a couple of coaches when I think of coaches. I had a coach when I was youth league. His name was Buddy. I don't even know what his last name was. But anyway, Buddy, when I was probably sixth grade, used to tell me that I wouldn't, I wouldn't amount to much. He was very negative. And I can always recall feeling down and like I couldn't, like you know, every--the world was on my shoulders and that I, you know, I'd never be successful because Buddy said I wouldn't be. And then something happened that was very interesting. So when I got into high school, I had this guy. He says, ah, you're not gonna make it, you know. When I got into high school, again, I was very fast, small, I was ninety-nine pounds [weight] when I started high school. By the time I was, in my second year, I can remember vividly, I was 126 [pounds]. As a junior, I was 152. As a senior, I was 165. So my senior year, I was 165 pounds (unclear). So I grew sixty-six pounds from my freshmen year football to my senior year football, in those four years. So anyway, I had this real negative experience with that guy. It wasn't reinforcing. And when I was at Thomas Jefferson [High School, Northern Virginia], I had a coach by the name of Rayburn, Coach Rayburn. Coach Rayburn was a good influence on me as a man. We weren't, wasn't, I won't say we had the best, wasn't the best coach, but he was a, he had a good influence on me in terms of being a good, decent human. Now, you're talking that time period, remember this is 1971-ish, '72 [1972] time period, a lot of racial strife. Some of that manifested itself in my high school a little bit. We had a small group of African American students, very, you know, maybe fifty, you know, out of a population of 1,000 or so. That group tended to sit together in the mess hall, I mean in the cafeteria or wherever, right. Well, I'm an athlete. So I'm sitting with my friends, you know, my teammates. I can recall vividly one time where my coach had heard a rumor that somebody had called me an ethnic slur, called me in and asked me. He says, hey, did someone call you a chocolate drop or something like that. That's exactly what he said. I can still hear him saying it. I go, Coach, what are you talking about? And what somebody had said was is, said, you're a reverse, says we got a reverse Oreo here. One white guy was on one side of me and one white guy was on the other side of me. And I'm black in the middle, and says, we got a reverse Oreo here. He heard that. That rumor got back to him and he was, you know, he wasn't having anything to do with that. So he was like really on, making sure we didn't have, you know, we were focused on team, individuals being collective as a group, not racial stuff. But so he was a decent influence as a human, not a great coach. Bob Seveari (ph.) was my coach in, when I was in Sacramento [California].$$At Jesuit.$$At Jesuit, Jesuit High School. That's where I learned about being a winner.$So I started out as a Ranger company commander in 2000--in 1986 and, at Alpha Company, and had something really tragic happen very early in my command. We were actually doing a rehearsal, a real-world rehearsal for a real operation--rescue operation. And part of that rehearsal involved using explosive charges. And in an explosion that I actually had the, was talking on a radio and gave the command for the explosive device to be set off. A piece of shrapnel from the explosion actually blew back, a bunch of it, right back where I was laying with my assault unit. And I had, the radio that I gave the command to detonate this thing, was on the back of a young PFC [private first class] named Michael Ruddis (ph.). And a piece of shrapnel hit Ruddis right here on his left side, right next to me. And my shoulder was touching his shoulder literally, as we were laying next to each other and killed him, cut his aorta and killed him. And on my immediate left side was another young man who had another piece of shrapnel hit him and tra--you know, traumatically amputated his hand, his right hand. And so, and then there was a lieutenant that got hit in the head by a piece of shrapnel from that same explosion. And the thing I'll never forget about that was, another one of my heroes is a guy by the name of Joe Stringum (ph.). And Joe Stringum was the ranger regimental commander, fearless wartime hero from Vietnam. He's not a commander of the range regiment. So as this accident occurs, and again, this is a rehearsal for a real op, it was in Dugway, Utah and we're doing it. I called in the Medivac [medical evacuation] to extract my wounded, and PFC Ruddis after we were treating him and the other soldier. And the range regimental commander didn't see it, but he was in the general area. So he came over to the location where I was. I'll never forget this. You know, we're still dealing with the tragic, tragedy of this, you know. And I'd been, I hadn't experienced this kind of thing, per se, before. And he looked right at me. He goes, okay, Ranger, tell me, tell me what happened. I told him where we were, what happened, what I thought happened 'cause this was three o'clock in the morning in the dark. And he goes, okay, you got your wounded evacuated? I said, yes, sir. He goes do you have your sensitive items accounted for? I says, yeah, we got all their stuff together. And then he said to me, looked me in the face--he didn't do what some people would have done, which would, might have been, okay, well, let's stop. Let's take a statement from everybody. Let's, and I'm not saying we shouldn't pay attention to safety. I'm just the opposite. But this is an important thing. He said to me, he goes, "Okay, Ranger. You still got one hour and fifteen minutes to get to extraction." He was telling me, you know, you don't get to quit just because that happened. Move out. Keep moving, continue the mission, Charlie-Mike. I've never, ever forgotten that. And that profoundly impacted me in the, several major decisions later in my life when I was sitting in his role in life. But so, we did move, get our--move to a desert-lake bed. We did get picked up on aircraft, and we did get out of there and did mourn our dead. And I did get to, later to provide a, you know, go hand--it was a tragic thing. I witnessed this guy die, and then I'm now handing a widow, his widow is nineteen [years old], you know, a flag.

Brig. Gen. Leo A. Brooks

Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Leo Brooks was born on August 9, 1932 in Alexandria, Virginia. Brooks was raised in Alexandria where his family has a long military tradition, dating back to Brooks’ great-grandfather. Brooks attended Virginia State University where he was also a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Brooks graduated from Virginia State University in 1954 and was a distinguished military graduate from ROTC. General Brooks was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.

During his first overseas assignment, he received a Regular Army commission and was detailed to the Infantry, where he served as a platoon leader with the 2nd Infantry Division in Alaska. Following his Infantry detail, he rejoined the Quartermaster Branch and commanded two companies. His initial Pentagon assignment was as a budget liaison to the U.S. Congress for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, HQDA. He served two tours in Vietnam, first as an advisor to the Vietnamese Army and later as a Battalion Commander. Other key staff assignments included: Deputy Secretary of the General Staff for the Army Materiel Command and member of J4, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Considered one of the Army’s premier logisticians, his key senior-level assignments included four commands over a ten year period: Commander, Sacramento Army Depot; Commander, 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas; Commanding General, US Army Troop Support Agency, where he directed 178 commissary stores; and Commanding General of the Defense Personnel Support Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he directed the procurement and management of all food, clothing, textile, and medical supplies and equipment for all the military services. He retired while serving as a Major General in 1984 to accept an appointment as the Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia. Since he retired before serving three full years in grade, he was retired as a Brigadier General. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

General Brooks holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia State University, a Master of Science in Financial Management from George Washington University and the Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from New England School of Law. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the National War College in Washington, D.C. General Brooks’ family is the only African American family in the history of the United States to have a father and two sons to attain the rank of general in the army-BG Leo A. Brooks, Jr. (USA-Ret.) and General Vincent K. Brooks, Commander, US Army Pacific. He, and his wife, Naomi Lewis Brooks also have a daughter, Attorney Marquita K. Brooks. In retirement, he has served on many boards and councils. He currently is an elected member of the American Bar Association Council on Legal Education and Accreditation of law schools.

U.S. Army Brigadier General (Ret.) Leo A. Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.169

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/22/2013 |and| 12/2/2013

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Schools

George Washington Carver High School

Central State University

Virginia State University

National War College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leo

Birth City, State, Country

Alexandria

HM ID

BRO55

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

The Buck Stops Here.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/9/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Major general (retired) Brig. Gen. Leo A. Brooks (1932 - ) served in the United States Army for over thirty years. His family was the first African American family with three members that have achieved the rank of General within two generations.

Employment

United States Army

Alfred Street Baptist Church

Fairfax County Elections

Philadelphia City Government

Favorite Color

Black, Gold

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his father's education and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about how his parents met and his family home

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about Parker-Gray High School and integration in Alexandria, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his younger brother, Francis Brooks

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses the role of education in his family's success and describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about playing music and being a Boy Scout as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. comments on his primary and secondary education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers the stern lecture he got from his father about improving his grades

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. speaks about his teachers and mentors in high school and college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about being president of his fraternity and student government at Virgina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes campus life at Virginia State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses Petersburg, Virginia's military history

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his experience in ROTC

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about the first unit he was in at Fort Lee in Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about enlisting into the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his experience in the 23rd infantry regiment at Fort Richardson in Alaska

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his family, his first ROTC assignment at Central State College and going to Vietnam

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses the history of Wilberforce University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about being an advisor in Vietnam during the war, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about being an advisor in Vietnam during the war, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses pursuing his graduate studies back in the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about race relations and the greater opportunities for advancement in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his experiences as battalion commander, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his experiences as battalion commander, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his work at the Pentagon, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his work at the Pentagon, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his military awards and the problem of heroine amongst U.S. soldiers in Vietnam

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his second tour of duty in Vietnam and returning to the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his attendance at the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his sons' high school experience in California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his son, Vincent's college admissions experience, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his son, Vincent's college admissions experience, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. reflects upon his tour in Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers his return to the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about becoming Cambodian desk officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes U.S. involvement in Cambodia

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about how relocating to California affected his children

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls his promotion to colonel

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls a lawsuit during his U.S. military career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the U.S. Army's Total Force Policy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls gender integration in the U.S. military

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about gender discrimination in the U.S. military

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls the difficulties of motivating his officers

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers organizing the inventory management systems for the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers Robert M. Shoemaker

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls his appointment to brigadier general

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about the promotion process in the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers his daughter learning to ride a horse

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the responsibilities of the Troops Support Agency Commander

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about the commissary business in the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the procurement process for government manufacturing contracts

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers overseeing two automation installation contracts for the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the technological developments of computers for the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers becoming city manager for the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his position as city manager in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers the cabinet of Philadelphia Mayor Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr.

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his role as city manager in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers the MOVE crisis in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls taking care of his father

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his retirement

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his work after retirement

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his family

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his sons who reached the rank of general officers in the U.S. Army

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. reflects upon his professional legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his marriage

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Leo Brooks remembers the stern lecture he got from his father about improving his grades
Leo Brooks describes his experiences as battalion commander, pt. 1
Transcript
Now this is 1938 or so when you started school. You started school in '38' (1938)?$$Yes, yeah. So I used to keep the class, you know, supplied with things of that nature. And I had a teacher who does--the post office in Alexandria is named after--her name was Helen Day who when you did your multiplication tables or what not, you stood before her and she sat in a chair, and she had these flash cards, and she would raise the flash card up, and you would have to say nine times five is forty-five, eight times eight is sixty-four, whatever came up. If you got it right she'd put it in one pile and if you got it wrong, she'd put it in another pile. At the end of the pile, she would count the wrongs, and she had a strap about an inch and a half wide, and you held out your hand and for everyone you missed, you got a real slam right into the palm of your hand with that strap. So it was--you were incentivized to learn your multiplication tables. Well, one day I missed several. And so at the end of the day, she was out of the room, I packed up the tadpoles that I had taken to school, put them back in the bottle and had them at my desk. Well, when she walked in the room, one of the little girls says, oh, Miss Day, he's taking the tadpoles home. So she and I fell out. Well, we fell back in later, because she and my dad had knew each other very well. But I was bent on being, as I said earlier, respected, but I didn't quite know how off times to do it. When I got to high school, the first semester, I got my report card back, and of course we had show and tell at my house, you walked in with the report card and you stood at attention, as it were, while my parents reviewed the report card and you were praised or hazed right there. Well, I brought this report card home from the first semester in high school. And now I had been already working with my father, so I was mechanically oriented anyway, but I had a "B" in shop a "C" in English, I had another "B", I don't know, history or something, but all the rest "Cs". Well, my father and mother sat me down this time. By then my two older brothers had gone off to college and my sister was not at home at the time, so it was just my mother and father and I. And my father said, "Son, this is ridiculous, it cannot happen again. Here's what we're going to do." Now, I'm looking over at my mother who's sitting there with tears in her eyes, because they obviously have already discussed this strategy before they called me in. He said "You're going to come home from school every day, go into your room and study until suppertime. When supper is over you will do the dishes, when it's your turn and then you will study until eight o'clock and then you will go to bed, you won't go out and play. On Saturdays you'll be able to go out and play from 10 to 12, at 12 you come in and you begin to study until six. Sunday after church you will study. And you will do this for the next semester. Now you don't have to do it--now he's very stern at this moment," his voice is raising a bit, I recall it as if it were yesterday. "You don't have to do it, you can quit school, get out and get a job and pay your mother thirty dollars a month to live here and feed you or you can get out of the house." Now, the tears are really running down my mother's face and I'm as afraid as Goldie Locks before the big bad wolf. (laughing) So I took the first alternative and went from a bungling average to an "A" student.$$How old are you at this point?$$Well, I was about 14 years old, 13, 14 years old, yeah, yeah.$Okay. All right, so this is a time, I guess, as we get towards the late '60s' (1960s), there're actually riots on aircraft carriers and that sort of thing, but not in the army?$$Yeah, well, you're getting up to three assignments later when I went back to Vietnam. That was beginning to subside, but you had this thing, well I'm getting ahead, but we had this thing they used to call the dap(sp) where these soldiers bumped fists and elbows and things for two or three sometimes four or five minutes. And they would do it anywhere. They'd stand up in the dining facility and do it, you know. And I went to the battalion that I took over in December, 1970, before the other guy gave it up. And we were sitting in the dining room, it was about 20 officers, I think I was the only African American in the crowd, and here are these GIs standing up right next to us doing this dap. I said nothing. When I took over I told my sergeant major who is this highest non-commissioned officer in the unit, I said I want you to put the word out that I don't want any more dapping in my dining facilities, don't want any more dapping in my recreation halls, if you want to dap, you either dap outdoors or you dap in your barracks. It all went away.$$Now why did you issue an order. Now this was something that American soldiers were doing?$$Because the purpose that when you do that in the dining facility, here are two people sitting here eating, they're standing right beside them and two people slapping fists back and forth. It's a disturbance. It would be just as well stand up doing a dance, you know. And it was being done as an intentional affront, and I didn't want that. So they stopped. They did it--do in the barracks, but don't do it in the dining facility. Be just as though if somebody started singing a hillbilly song in the middle of while I'm trying to eat my dinner. It wouldn't made no difference to me, you know, what it was. And I had several other things in that nature that I did. You have to wear a head cover and I had an officer's call--and NCO [non-commissioned officer] call and I said if a soldier is walking down the street and he doesn't have his cap on and you let him do it and don't stop him and challenge him, you just said it's okay to not wear your hat, that's what you said, now do you mean that, no, you don't mean that. Well, then you have no choice but to say something. About four days later I was walking through the compound, and I heard this sergeant say you better put your hat on before Colonel [Leo] Brooks sees you. I let the soldier go by and I grabbed the sergeant and I said, that was the wrong answer. The answer is you better put your hat on before I, the sergeant, sees you. It's not because of Colonel Brooks, it's because it's right to wear your cover. And I used several other homespun techniques of that nature to put my personality on that unit.

Gen. Vincent Brooks

U.S. Army General Vincent K. Brooks was born in Anchorage, Alaska on October 24, 1958 to Leo Brooks Sr., an army officer who began his career one year after the military received the order to desegregate and ended his career nearly 30 years later having achieved the rank of major general, and Naomi Lewis Brooks, a schoolteacher and Army wife. Brooks graduated from Jesuit High School in California where he excelled in academics and in athletics, leading to his appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point among the first class to include women. At West Point, Brooks played varsity basketball in his freshman year under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Brooks went on to graduate with a B.S. degree in 1980 after achieving the historic honor of being appointed as the top-ranking cadet in the U.S. Corps of Cadets – the Cadet Brigade Commander or “First Captain” for his senior year – an historic first for an African American cadet, coming 177 years into West Point’s history, and also102 years after the first African American – Henry O. Flipper – graduated. His went on to earn his master’s degree (Master of Military Art and Science – MMAS) from the prestigious School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth and later served as a National Security Fellow at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Still serving on active duty thirty-three years after graduating from West Point as a commissioned officer, Brooks served in command and staff positions in the United States and around the world. His tours of duty with combat units include the 82nd Airborne Division, the 1st Infantry Division, the 2d Infantry Division, the 3d Infantry Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the III Corps, Third Army/U.S. Army Central, U.S. Army Pacific, and U.S. Central Command. General Brooks has commanded forces in peacekeeping operations and armistice enforcement in Kosovo and Korea, respectively prior to becoming a general; and in combat on four different tours in Iraq, the Middle East and Central Asia, all as a general. Brooks served at the national-level in the Pentagon as aide-de-camp to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and, later, as the U.S. Army’s Chief of Public Affairs. He also served on The Joint Staff as Deputy Director for Political-Military Affairs for the Western Hemisphere, and later as the Deputy Director for the War on Terrorism. On July 2, 2013, he was appointed by President Obama to command the U.S. Army Pacific.

Brooks’ has many military honors and decorations with the highest being the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters. Brooks was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the New England School of Law in Boston and is part of the only African American family to have three generals within two generations (father, brother, and Vincent Brooks are all Army generals).

Brooks is married to his wife of thirty years, Carol, a physical therapist and educator who also comes from a career Army officer family.

U.S. Army General Vincent K. Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 20, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.171

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/21/2013

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Keith

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

United States Military Academy

Jesuit College Preparatory High School

U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies

Harvard Kennedy School

Thomas Jefferson High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Vincent

Birth City, State, Country

Anchorage

HM ID

BRO56

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Alaska

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

10/24/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Fort Shafter

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

General Gen. Vincent Brooks (1958 - ) graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point where he became the first African American cadet in the school’s history to be named cadet brigade commander. His family is the only African American family in U.S. history with three generals in two generations. Brooks currently commands U.S. Army Pacific.

Employment

United States Army

United States Department of Defense

Favorite Color

Royal Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:7734,178:14400,250:15673,273:21435,426:29710,554:44896,798:61066,1103:66690,1218:80600,1406$920,0:15440,266:34635,547:35085,554:35835,563:47734,746:59000,958:70724,1134:77648,1249:83732,1362:97387,1489:98572,1513:104350,1608:136330,1955:143604,2073:143974,2079:157438,2309:174647,2622:176920,2677
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vincent Brooks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vincent Brooks lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vincent Brooks describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vincent Brooks describes his Quander family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vincent Brooks talks about his Quander family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vincent Brooks talks about his Lewis family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vincent Brooks talks about his maternal grandfather, James Lewis

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vincent Brooks talks about his Lewis family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vincent Brooks talks about his mother's upbringing in Alexandria, Virginia, and his family's athletic talents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vincent Brooks talks about his maternal family's involvement in the seminary

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Vincent Brooks talks about his maternal grandparents' home in Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vincent Brook talks about his mother's education, her career as an educator, and her active life in the military community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vincent Brook describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vincent Brook describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vincent Brook talks about his paternal family's involvement with the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vincent Brook talks about his grandfathers' involvement as leaders in the middle class community in Alexandria, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vincent Brook talks about his grandfather's bus company, segregation in Alexandria, Virginia, and the integration of the schools

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vincent Brook talks about his father's interest in music and his paternal family's education and careers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vincent Brook talks about his father's interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Vincent Brook describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Vincent Brook describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Vincent Brook talks about his brother, Leo Brooks, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vincent Brook talks about his sister, Marquita Brooks, and his family's frequent moves while his father was in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vincent Brook describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vincent Brook describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vincent Brook talks about the differences in racial interactions within the military and in civilian society

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vincent Brook talks about attending elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vincent Brook talks about getting bullied in elementary school in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vincent Brook talks about his experience as a child at the Fort Leavenworth military base in Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vincent Brook talks about the similarities and differences between schools on the military base and those in the public sector

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Vincent Brook talks about his interest in human anatomy and medicine while he was in middle school and high school

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Vincent Brook talks about his relationship with his father, and growing up in a close-knit family with male role models

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Vincent Brook talks about the teachers who inspired him in school

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Vincent Brook talks about his paternal family's involvement with the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia
Vincent Brooks talks about his maternal family's involvement in the seminary
Transcript
Slavery is not part of that line [Brooks' paternal family]. Entrepreneurship is, and so whether it was running painting companies or bus companies and--or assisting underground railroad or helping to build Alfred Street Baptist Church, which is the first African American church in downtown Alexandria [Virginia]. It split away from the First Baptist Church of Alexandria. And they just celebrated 200 years together a few years ago. My father's [Leo Brooks, Sr.] a, an emeritus deacon there, by the way, and most of my mother's [Naomi Lewis Brooks] siblings got married in that church over the years. My mother's mother's family, the Quanders, had historic roots there. But so did the Brooks as it turns out, right there in Alexandria, Virginia, huge church now. It's a mega church, but it wasn't all those years. But it was the foundation of the community, the educators of the community all attended that church, way back in the 1800s.$$Okay, this is, once again, this Mount Calvary?$$Yet another church.$$There's another--(unclear) (simultaneous)$$There are several churches that are really important to my family.$$So the one in Alexandria is what?$$Alfred Street--$$Alfred Street.$$--Alfred, A-L-F-R-E-D Street Baptist Church.$$Baptist, okay.$$And it is right at the intersection of Alfred and Duke [streets] in Alexandria. It's unmistakable right now, 'cause it now takes up several blocks.$This, the Lewis family has quite a few stories as well. I mean there're many, many more I could tell you about. You know, really, one of them that I have to at least open the door to, and we can talk about more if you want to, that area of Seminary, there're some interesting confluence of history and how they manifest themselves. This will open the door to several more questions for you. As I mentioned, my grandfather [James] Lewis [Jr.], and his father's [James Lewis] family were up in the Seminary area. Most of the men in that family worked somehow, related to the Episcopal seminary, whether they were running the boiler room, and we had a relative who did that or if they were doing custodial services or what have you, as was the case in Virginia in that era, the famous Jim Crowe era, it was menial work that they were doing. But they were able to earn a living doing that and take care of their families which were very large right then. Just beyond the Seminary is a place called Fort Ward, W-A-R-D. It's now a historic park, but on the outside edge of Fort Ward is a cemetery, just tucked off on the side. And it's the cemetery for Oakland Baptist Church that I mentioned, which is maybe a half a mile away from there. Now, it's all closed out in woods and housing areas, but that used to be a pathway that would go from Oakland Baptist Church over to the Fort Ward Cemetery. And inside of there are many, many, many layers of my family. So that's where several great grand, and great, great grand relatives are located. And in coming back to the Seminary, the strange confluence that I talked about there, my wife's grandfather was also a cleric. He was Episcopal priest, an African American Episcopal [AME] priest in a time of segregation.$$What was his name?$$His, Odell Greenleaf Harris from North Carolina, from Henderson, North Carolina. And ultimately, he was able to break the color line in the Episcopal Seminary at that very same place, Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. And so on one side, my grandfather and great grandfather and relatives were keeping the facility going. Then ultimately, my wife's grandfather was able to break the color line on--he's got books that are documented. He wrote about it, one was called, 'It Can Be Done', and it's in the library there at the Episcopal Seminary. My mother-in-law helped to get that published years ago. This is just the strange way that life guides us.$$Yeah, this is, this is something. It's remarkable (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$I mean my roots in Virginia are so deep and so broad that it's really, it's fascinating, I mean I could talk about it forever.

Col. Edward Howard

U.S. Army Colonel Edward B. Howard was born on September 13, 1925 in Washington, D.C. His father, Edward W. Howard, was an attorney; his mother, Edith B. Howard, an English teacher. Howard attended Grimke Elementary School and Garnet Patterson Jr. High School before graduating as valedictorian from Paul Laurence Dunbar Sr. High School in Washington, D.C. in 1943. He then attended Dartmouth College from 1943 to 1945 before being selected to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Howard went on to earn his B.S. degree in engineering from West Point in 1949 and his M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1960.

Throughout his thirty years of service, Howard has significant experience with engineering investigations and technical analysis. Howard began his military career in 1949 as a company grade officer, and was then assigned as a signal company commander occupying Germany until 1962. During the Vietnam War he received domestic and international assignments. Howard served as a communications officer in the National Military Command Center at Pentagon and then as an installation commander and staff officer in Bangkok, Thailand where he managed a program to train Thai engineers and directed a fixed communications facility. In 1971, Howard became chief the Frequency Branch in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and in 1973, he was assigned to the board of the Inspector General of the U.S. Army.

Howard served as a signal corps officer from 1967 to 1979 and then became a senior engineer for Flight Systems, Inc. While there, he recommended the criteria for prioritizing the U.S. Navy Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) and developed the U.S. Navy standard briefing for subcontractor manufacturing. From 1983 to 1990, Howard received several senior-level military and civilian appointments, including being named a senior scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the Army Corps of Engineers. He also provided engineering support the RAIL Company to develop the Unmanned Air Vehicle and Tactical Air Launched Decoy production models. In 1970, he was hired by ORI, Inc., and served as the lead engineer to review the Electromagnetic Interference/Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMI/EMC) plans, specification and program documents.

Howard is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Dartmouth Outing Club, and Methodist Men. For serving in the U.S. Army during a time of war, Howard was honored with the World War II Victory Medal, the Korean Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. His military decorations also include the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Occupation Medal (Germany), the National Defense Medal with the 1st Oak Leaf Cluster, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, the Bronze Star Medal with the 1st Oak Leaf Cluster, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Howard married the late Willrene M. White Howard on April 8, 1950. They have one daughter, Edith H. Bostic.

Edward B. Howard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 23, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.147

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/23/2013

Last Name

Howard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Occupation
Schools

Grimke School

Shaw Middle School @ Garnet Patterson

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Dartmouth College

United States Military Academy

Purdue University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

HOW05

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/13/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

6/20/2017

Short Description

General Col. Edward Howard (1925 - 2017 ) is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Employment

ORI, Inc

Rail Company

Science and Technology Program

Flight Systems, Inc

United States Army

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1618,30:3340,99:4488,114:5226,125:5636,131:32886,205:68880,543:69510,551:80084,603:86004,622:112610,908:112910,913:124138,995:124600,1002:137302,1101:138394,1115:139720,1204:140500,1221:162691,1377:163923,1407:164231,1442:185750,1537:188170,1579:212058,1714:233618,1944:234013,1950:236530,1971:256684,2109:257860,2116:266640,2174:269133,2205:276290,2263:285153,2309:285843,2359:298216,2481:309374,2551:313356,2596:313700,2601:314560,2615:315506,2625:319204,2728:327402,2781:327714,2827:328572,2846:329196,2857:331536,3032:337874,3139:355418,3316:357138,3361:366544,3503:370720,3534:377770,3626$0,0:48508,429:56854,543:107695,795:150070,1084:155950,1342:165364,1399:195286,1558:196087,1572:206486,1654:239940,1949
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Howard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Howard lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Howard describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Howard talks about his mother's education and her becoming a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Howard talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Howard talks about his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Howard talks about his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Howard talks about growing up in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Howard describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Howard talks about his childhood interest in the soapbox derby and tinkering with gadgets

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edward Howard talks about starting grade school at Grimke Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Howard talks about his experience in elementary school in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Howard talks about going to church as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Howard talks about attending middle school in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Howard describes his experience in high school in Washington, D.C., as a high school cadet

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Howard talks about his interest in becoming a medical doctor, and his joining the United States Military Academy, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Howard talks about his interest in becoming a medical doctor, and his joining the United States Military Academy, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Howard talks about boxing champion Joe Louis

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward Howard describes his decision to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Edward Howard describes his initial experience at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Howard describes his experience at Dartmouth College and at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Howard describes his interest in photography and staying free of demerits at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Howard talks about his experience at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Howard talks about attending Ground General School at Fort Riley, Kansas, and the integration of the armed services in 1948

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Howard describes how he met his wife and they were married in 1950

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Howard describes his experience in the U.S. Army Signal Corp in Korea in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Howard describes his experience in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Korea in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Howard talks about attending Purdue University to obtain his master's degree in electrical engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Howard talks about serving on the Army Discharge Review Board

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Howard talks about his service in the U.S. Army and his retirement as a full colonel in 1979

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Howard talks about his medals and commendations in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Howard talks about attending West Point class luncheons

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward Howard talks about his career as an electrical engineer after retiring from the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edward Howard reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Edward Howard talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Edward Howard describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Edward Howard talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Howard describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

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DATitle
Edward Howard describes his interest in photography and staying free of demerits at the United States Military Academy at West Point
Edward Howard describes his experience in the U.S. Army Signal Corp in Korea in the 1950s
Transcript
What was your--did you have a favorite part of West Point [United States Military Academy], I mean something that really was great that you liked the most about West Point?$$Well, I don't know of anything that, considered a favorite. I, I know I started a series of photographs. Photography was one of my hobbies, so I would put--each week, essentially, I would have a new picture on the bulletin board. And sometimes, I would have them indicate something and ask for a suggested title. I know that I borrowed a Great Dane from one of the faculty members. And I had a fellow who had his full dress uniform show, have that on his arm. We had the dog, he was holding a roll in his hand, and I used that as the barker (unclear) rule in the "Tales of Hoffman." So his name was Hoffman, and that was how, I mean I would ask, put these--as I say, put these pictures on the board, usually on a weekly basis, some significant event or something humorous or whatever you wanna call it.$$Okay, did people like your photos for the most part?$$Oh, I think so, yes.$$Okay, all right, so--okay, what was the worst time at West Point? Was there a time when you thought you weren't gonna make or a time that you thought that you were gonna get in trouble or did get in trouble or--$$It doesn't ring a bell.$$So you never experienced any real, you know, down times or--$$No.$$Okay, and what would you think would be your great triumph at West Point?$$Greatest?$$Triumph.$$Triumph?$$Yeah.$$I guess I stayed essentially demerit free. I didn't get into any problems of demerits or academic problems or anything so that, I could sweat easily. And when you're showing signs of putting out, as they called it, I would give the impression that I was putting out. So by perspiring under pressure, I just managed to survive, so to speak.$$I don't understand that, now, kind of explain that again for us?$$Well, as I say, you wanted, when you're a plebe, your first year, you wanna show that you're absorbing what they want you to get. So by showing that I would, when I would perspire and give--it made it look as if I was really trying to do the right thing. And it lessened any severe treatment that I would get not putting out.$$Okay, so--$$So--$$Go ahead.$$Well, as I say that's, that was showing that you were taking everything that they're giving you. I could show that I was trying to do what I was told to do. So I didn't have any academic, any demerit problems or anything like that from not trying to follow instructions.$$Okay, so if they gave you an instruction, and you were--and if you didn't show that you were sweating, they would, it would indicate that you weren't trying hard enough.$$Um-hum, yeah.$$But you could sweat easier--$$Yes, so--$$So (laughter), it always looked like you were trying.$$(Laughter) Yeah.$$Now, this is a, I guess would be a racial kind of characteristic that--I think African Americans actually sweat easier than white people.$$Oh.$$And I, you know, I'm not a scientist but life has indicated to me that that's true, pretty much. I used to go to band camp, and they used to pass out salt pills to all the white people 'cause they would pass out on the field, 'cause they couldn't--they didn't sweat like me. But I sweated a lot. I never needed it.$$(Laughter).$$But the, it's--so this is something that you can do (laughter) that kept you out of big trouble?$$Yes, I think so.$$'Cause it always looked like you were trying much harder--$$Yeah.$$--because you sweated easier.$$Um-hum.$$But you were trying, though, right?$$Oh, yes.$$Anyway, so, okay. That's interesting, that's interesting.$And I have here--I don't know what comes next exactly, but what I have here is that you were assigned to Camp Cooke in California, is that right?$$(OFF-CAMERA VOICE): Assigned to Fort Monmouth, then he went to--$$Oh, okay, he's goes--okay, you go to Korea first, right?$$(No audible response).$$No, okay. What was the first?$$(OFF-CAMERA VOICE): I think he was assigned to Fort Monmouth and from Fort Monmouth, he was sent to Korea 'cause he went to Korea within six months of his marriage.$$All right, so.$$(OFF-CAMERA VOICE): He goes to Korea in '50 [1950], '51 [1951].$$Yeah, so I'm hearing that you went to Fort Monmouth [New Jersey] and then to Korea, right?$$Yes.$$Is that true?$$Yes.$$Okay, and you're--now, you were in the Signal Corp--$$Signal Corp, um-hum.$$--in Korea. What were your duties as a Signal Corpsman in Korea?$$We, I had the communications element of the division. The division's Signal officer was a Lieutenant Colonel, and I had the wire platoon, wire communications in those days. We did a lot of field wire installations and that sort of thing. We, that is cable to various units we supported, and I recall the unfortunate incident where the division Signal officer was traveling with some of my people, and we had these two and a half ton trucks with wire cable. The trouble, the problems were with mines mostly, whereby a mine was struck by one of the vehicles that I had and the Signal officer was traveling with some people in a jeep. I was in another jeep, and this cable, two and a half ton truck, hit a mine which didn't do too much damage, but the jeep where the Signal officer was, was--when they heard this other instance, when he heard the trouble, he backed up, and he backed over a mine. And that took out the Signal officer and one of my drivers, I believe, was with him and everything. So that they lost their lives in that incident--$$Okay.$$--which was a bit unnerving, so to speak.$$Yes, sir.

Dr. Alvin Blount, Jr.

Physician Dr. Alvin Blount, Jr. was born on February 24, 1922, in Wake County, Raleigh, North Carolina. He was the eldest of four children and the only son of parents who worked as domestics. After graduating from Washington High School in Raleigh, Blount enrolled at North Carolina A & T University in 1939 where he served as the student body president and as chairman of the campus newspaper before graduating in 1943 with his B.A. degree in chemistry (magna cum laude). After graduating, Blount was accepted into a government funded program that enabled him to enroll in Howard University Medical School where he studied under Dr. Charles Drew and received his M.D. degree in 1947. Blount spent three years on active duty in the U.S. Army during medical school. He completed a general surgery residency at Kate Bittings Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem.

In 1952, Blount was mobilized with the 8225th Infantry Division from Fort Bragg as a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps’ 2nd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) Unit that was sent to Korea. Blount, whose team performed ninety surgeries a week, went on to become a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He served as acting Chief of Surgery for the 8225th MASH Unit in Korea from 1951 until 1952, and was appointed Chief of Surgery for the 47th U.S. Army Combat Surgical Hospital in Southeast Asia. He returned to the United States in 1954.

In 1957, Blount became the first African American in North Carolina be certified by the American College of Abdominal Surgeons in 1957 and practiced at Kindred Hospital (formerly L. Richardson Hospital). He was a litigant of the suit Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Hospital (1963), the landmark Supreme Court decision that desegregated hospitals throughout the South. Blount became the first black surgeon admitted to the medical staff of Cone Hospital in 1964. He served as Chief of Surgery for L. Richardson Hospital and as Medical Director for the Guilford Health Care Center.

Blount was affiliated with numerous organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Association of Guardsmen. He was a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity since 1970; and, in 1979, he established the Beta Epsilon Boule of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity in Greensboro. Blount, a 33rd degree Mason, was an honorary past Grand Master and Medical Director of the Prince Hall Masons of North Carolina. He received countless awards including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor that can be granted to a civilian in the state of North Carolina. In 1983, North Carolina A & T University awarded Blount an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities

Blount passed away on January 6, 2017 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2013.157

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/5/2013

Last Name

Blount

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

V.

Occupation
Schools

Washington High School

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Howard University College of Medicine

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alvin

Birth City, State, Country

Raleigh

HM ID

BLO02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

If you think you are right, have the courage to do it.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

2/24/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Greensboro

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

1/6/2017

Short Description

Physician Dr. Alvin Blount, Jr. (1922 - 2017 ) , the first African American in North Carolina to be certified by the American College of Abdominal Surgeons, was a litigant in the hospital desegregation suit Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Hospital, which allowed him to become first black surgeon admitted to the medical staff of Cone Hospital. He served as acting Chief of Surgery for the 8225th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) Unit in Korea from 1951 until 1952, and was appointed Chief of Surgery for the 47th U.S. Army Combat Surgical Hospital in Southeast Asia.

Employment

Delete

Kindred Hospital

Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital

L. Richardson Hospital

Womack Army Hospital

8225th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital

United States Army Medical Services

Katie B. Reynolds Memorial Hospital

Favorite Color

Light Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:2835,19:17790,203:18385,212:53310,588:53772,596:54465,605:76772,852:77384,864:77928,873:78404,881:80376,918:80852,926:81736,939:88510,1027:88895,1036:89115,1041:93930,1113:108490,1262:113260,1293:114502,1298:125734,1467:126139,1480:131647,1544:136290,1566:136510,1571:141156,1639:146276,1668:147872,1690:149048,1712:156058,1775:158476,1795:159100,1805:176763,2024:183386,2059:204590,2260$380,0:5980,83:6880,94:7580,100:8080,106:9180,119:10980,143:18783,270:23230,329:26290,393:26920,420:41138,575:69056,941:79454,1013:109475,1361:114721,1420:116630,1525:179498,2141:180344,2189:194972,2313:208580,2440:216256,2581:216864,2590:230282,2737:238307,2849:277920,3266
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Blount's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount talks about his mother's education and aspirations and his parents working in New York during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about land ownership in North Carolina after the American Civil War

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount talks about his father's education and his job in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about his parents getting married in 1920 and lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alvin Blount talks about his parents' loving marriage, their emphasis on education, and their having to work in New York during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Alvin Blount discusses his father's employment as a chauffeur for Eddie Rickenbacker, the Rickenbacker family, and General John "Black Jack" Pershing

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Alvin Blount talks about the mentorship that he received from his father's employer, Reed Chambers

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about Reed Cambers, his mother's death, and his father's remarriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount describes his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about his childhood observations of his life as an African American

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about his religious faith

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount talks about attending elementary school in New Rochelle, New York and Franklinton, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount talks about the difference between his elementary schools in New Rochelle, New York and Franklinton, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about the teachers who influenced him, his math classes and why he decided to major in chemistry in college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount talks about his academics and leadership in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount talks about being exposed to black doctors in the neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about attending North Carolina A and T State University in 1939 on a National Youth Administration (NYA) scholarship

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Alvin Blount talks about his professors in at North Carolina A and T State University and his involvement in campus politics

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about his nickname in college, and running for student body elections

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount recalls the United States' entry into World War II in 1941 and why he decided to pursue medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about the importance of a background in the humanities, and how he ensured that he received a well-rounded education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about the joining the U.S. Army and his experience there

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount talks about attending Howard University's medical college, his residency in North Carolina, and the challenges of being a black physician

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount talks about the Flexner Report

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about the challenges that were faced by black medical students and residents while receiving his medical training

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount talks about the limited opportunity for black medical residents and the discrimination against them

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount talks about his professors and colleagues at Howard University's College of Medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about his career as a physician and surgeon

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about his residency at Kate B. Reynolds Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount talks about rejoining the military in 1950, and his assignments to the MASH units in Fort Bragg and in Korea

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount describes his experience in the Korean War, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about his marriages

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his experience in Korea during the Korean War and the plight of the civilians, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his experience in Korea during the Korean War and the plight of the civilians, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about the book and television series, MASH

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount describes his experience the Korean War, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about returning from the Korean War and his acquaintance with Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount talks about becoming the first black doctor to practice at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about the anti-discrimination 'Simkins versus Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital' lawsuit of 1963, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about the anti-discrimination 'Simkins versus Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital' lawsuit of 1963, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount reflects upon Jack Greenberg being the only white legal counselor for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his experience with demonstrations at North Carolina A and T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount talks about Reverend Jesse Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount talks about black doctors who were involved in civil rights and the history of African Americans in medicine in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount talks about becoming the first black physician to perform surgery at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount talks about the Ku Klux Klansmen who built his home in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about facing discrimination as a physician in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about serving on the Greensboro jury commission

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount reflects upon the changes in the relationship between African American and white doctors in North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alvin Blount describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alvin Blount reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alvin Blount reflects upon the election of President Barack Obama as the first black president in the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Alvin Blount talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alvin Blount discusses health concerns and healthcare for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alvin Blount discusses health concerns and healthcare for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alvin Blount talks about medical malpractice

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alvin Blount talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alvin Blount describes his photographs

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DATitle
Alvin Blount talks about the anti-discrimination 'Simkins versus Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital' lawsuit of 1963, pt. 1
Alvin Blount talks about becoming the first black physician to perform surgery at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina
Transcript
There's a story to that. I was chairman in Greensboro [North Carolina] of the liaison committee between the Greensboro Medical Society--black, and the white medical society, Gilford County. They had a group of doctors, members from each of them. And I served as chairman. I was secretary of the Greensboro Medical Society. And although they had other people qualified, I had an application in. And I was appointed the first black doctor to the Gilford County Medical Society and the Greensboro Academy of Medicine. Now, there's another--added to it. They offered us, before this, what is called a scientific membership--which you go to the meetings, but the social events, you were excluded.$$Scientific membership?$$Yeah. And we wrote them back and told them this is the most insulting thing you can do, and did not accept it.$$Yeah, isn't a goal of the American Medical Association to form a collegial bond between physicians?$$Well, that's what they said. But you see, they didn't have a--. Here's the question. When you read this book, you'll understand the black doctor was never intended by the American Medical Association to be as full fledged as the white physician. I don't care how much training, what and what--if you're black, then you lost your qualification then. That went for [Dr. Charles] Drew, that went for all of us at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia], and everybody, until they got them to--and so forth. So, there we had that right that we had in the South. And in--a lot of northern states were doing the same thing. It excludes, at that time it didn't exclude Connecticut nor Massachusetts at first. So, this is it, the thing that we were fighting about. It all eventually led, as you know, in a suit.$$Right, right.$$In 1962.$$A friend of yours who's a dentist, right, filed?$$There were ten of us.$$Well, can you remember all ten?$$Yeah. I got them around here somewhere. Okay, let me see if I can give you--There was Dr. [Walter] Hughes, Dr. Blount, Dr. Jones and Dr. Alexander, Dr. F. E. Davis and E.C. Noel. And the dentists were Dr. [George] Simkins, Dr. Milton Barnes and Dr. W. T. L. Miller. And there were two civilians, one of which was named Lyons.$$Okay.$$That's it.$$Okay, okay.$Okay. Now, in 1964--this is the same year as the Civil Rights Act was passed, you became the first black physician to perform an operation at Moses Cone [Memorial Hospital, Greensboro, North Carolina], right?$$Yes I did, a cholecystectomy (unclear).$$How did that take place? I mean, was there, you know--because you being the first, there had to be some--was there any ceremony involved in this, or any--$$It is said that the white surgeons took a holiday that day. That's so far back I can't think whether it was true or not. More than likely, it was. But it was said that for two or three days, the white physicians would boycott this. I don't know whether they did or not, but that is said, and it probably is true. But I had been operating with them over at the black hospital. So, that wasn't anything new. I'd been at the [U.S.] Army hospital and I operated, so--. And my assistant was in surgery and gynecology, but he was also certified. So, we went in and did our, you know, before we do our operations, the first thing we do is we ligate the cystic duct and cystic artery. And then before we cut, we take a picture of the common [bile] duct to see if there are any stones in there. If not, you cut them and (unclear) come on out. And I guess we were there about an hour and ten minutes doing that. And they were amazed, because some of their doctors took two hours and a half or something. But that goes under the particular art of dexterity. And some people are fairly good technicians and others aren't, and no matter how much theory they know, they just can't do the small things, because we don't--yeah--$$We were talking about Jack White earlier--$$Yeah, that's right.$$--about how dexterious he was.$$And me doing them now, I'd be doing laproscopic. I'd just make two little holes and look down there and clip, clip, clip, clip, and in thirty minutes, I'm out. But (unclear), and then of course, the next day I have to (unclear) with an abdominal hysterectomy and, you know, the vaginal. I did, and I think the next day I had a cholecystectomy the day before, and lesions were left in the colon and enter into what we call entero-proctostomy, the thing what I've been doing all the time. And then they started drifting back and shaking my hands and saying, "It certainly went right, I'm sorry y'all had to go through this stuff." You know, I just took that pressure off them. "Yeah, man. But you see what you were doing, you were messing with my welfare because the patient wanted to come here, and I couldn't come here. So they had to get somebody here to do the operation. You're taking my money. (laughter). And so, that's the only thing we're interested in. You don't have to love me, or like me, or not. But you don't have the right to keep me out of this facility, because you don't want it. The people know it."$$This is true.$$Yeah. So there again goes-they of us (unclear) how to approach things and how to get things over to people definitely without having to put your fist on them. Don't get mad about it, just lay the facts out. Smarter thinker. That's what I, all my life--if you live in the South, and they do anything for you, you had to spend some nights thinking how you're going to get this done.