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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

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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.