WWII VETERAN INTERVIEW ESSAY LINDSEY
World War II was in retrospect a horrible, bloody war that cost millions of lives. Actually, being able to talk to a person who lived and fought during this time is a rare and truly eye opening experience.
I was able to enjoy interviewing a veteran solely because one of my fellow classmates was able to set up an appointment at 11:00 in the morning at the Josey Ranch Senior Center. And I am located so conveniently close could not afford to pass up such a fortuitous situation.
“Chief Brooks”, born Horris Brooks currently resides in Carrollton. He is legally blind and hard of hearing. Chief Brooks served in the Navy for 21 years in a time period from 1942 to 1963. In the Navy, Chief Brooks achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Chief Brooks married a Japanese woman after the war and went on to have a son, who also joined the Navy. He is also a proud grandparent and has been happily married for 55 years. (He says “I guess it is working out”.)
At the start of our interview I had mixed motions of being very bored and a longing to just leave and go home. It was 11:00 and that is very early for a weekend.
Finally the awkwardness was broken as the first question was asked. Chief Brooks was stationed in the South Pacific during the war, spending most of the time on a Battle Ship, the USS Missouri.
Chief Brooks also took part in the Korean War and had a year stay in Japan after World War II was over. One memorable experience Chief Brooks shared with us, is when he was stationed in Japan, he was given orders to take a tugboat and sail in front of the battleship so Brooks was basically being used as a substitute in a very real and very dangerous game of minesweeper. (At the sound of this I just could not believe he survived something so dangerous.)
To Chief Brooks the Battle at Midway was the biggest turning point of the war, as well as the Battle of Dolittle when the planes were launched, all this and the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.
Chief Brooks commented on Yamamoto quote “divine winds blowing in the wrong direction” taking it to the planes that flew over the Emperors palace in Tokyo.
He also shows great enthusiasm for President Truman’s decision to drop the bombs saying that it ended the war quicker, saving 1,000,000 Americans lives and 3,000,000 Japanese lives, according to Chief brooks the Japanese even used children fighting to the last man, refusing to surrender committing suicide instead.
Such grueling reality was a shocker, all those lives ruined, wasted in death.
Chief Brooks as in Pearl Harbor, getting some special training to storm the beaches of Japan coast to set up barges.
Chief Brooks was familiar with all sorts of weaponry, being on a Battleship, he was familiar with most ship gunnery, being as aid to the “gunsman”. Also commenting on a battle he participated in which goes down in history as the only battle in the naval history to be fought using only torpedoes.
At the end of the war, Chief Brooks was stationed in the South Pacific at the end of the European front. To Brooks this was call for celebration, as it would mean more support for his section of the war.
His opinion of Yamamoto is that he agrees that when he dropped the bombs he made a horrible mistake “awaking a sleeping giant”. Be sides the US had also broken the Japanese code, and was aware of all Japanese movements.
The most memorable comment Chief Brooks made was in his initial reaction to the bombs drop, saying he was happy and giddy even and proceeded to march down with his company to the local bar and drink all the beer. Upon waking the next day, he found himself wearing the commanders had and not knowing where he was.
When I walked into this interview I expected nothing and was passive, but simply interacting with Chief Brooks I feel as I now have a better understanding of the
Solders during the war.
And even though it seemed so long ago that those soldiers that died were real people, with real dreams, ambitions, families and friends just like us. So I think it is important to honor the sacrifice they made for their country.
I wish to thank Horris Brooks for his valuable time, and the Josey Ranch Senior Center for hosting us in our hour long interview.