Chas Hart

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An Article by Chas Hart

Chas Hart

Interview a World War II Veteran

Interviews are an essential key to learning about a topic. They reveal a first person side of things, otherwise unknown. In this interview, it gave a personal touch to the common class room knowledge, helping to understand World War II. Without this interview, one would not be able to truly understand about the war and/or the soldiers who fought in it.

The interview was held in the Carrollton Senior center, which is by Carrollton library. It was in the first room on the left, a large square shaped room with just chairs and a podium in it. Starting at 10:00 am, the interview ended by 11:15 am. This gave the speaker ample time to answer questions without being rushed.

The interviewee was named Harry Brooks, otherwise known as the nickname “Chief Brooks.” He gave us his phone number in case we had questions after our meeting.

As for the interview itself, it was started by the question “what is your number for our teacher to know?” He said his number then went on to tell about himself. He was been retired for 45 years and was a chief Pedi officer in the navy. Entering in the navy 1942 in September, he documented 23 years in the service by leaving in October of 1963. Brooks is now 84 years old and was born and raised in Graham, Texas. Next question, “Where were you stationed?” came up. In the south pacific mostly, for three years, and in Europe a little was the answer. Brooks told us a story of when they first occupied Japan; he was put in a boat and told to go first in front of the ship so if there was a mine, the boat would blow up not the entire ship. After this, a question about his family and who all went in the navy was asked. He was the only in his family that went in the navy. Brooks also earned his GED in 1950. Going by the paper, the question “What was the mission of your group?” was asked. Brook’s first response was “locate enemy and destroy,” but he elaborated saying it was primarily escorting aircraft carriers. The ship he was assigned to was one of the fastest ships in the navy at that time, the battleship Missouri, so it was one of the few ships that could keep up with the aircraft carriers. “Which battle was the turning point of the war?” was the next question. Brooks answer to that was “probably the battle at Midway”, which was the battle, won by the allies, that severely weakened the Japanese naval power. An important question “Did President Truman make the right decision dropping the Atomic bombs?” was then asked. Brooks was very sure about his answer, saying “I certainly do” because I saved 1 million Americans and approximately 3 million Japanese. The Japanese fought to the death, some would rather kill themselves than surrender, so the demoralizing effect of the bomb finished the fight. The next question was “Where were you when the bombs were dropped?” Brooks answered back that he was at Pearl Harbor getting special training for the invasion of Japan like the battle plan for. “What was the reaction when you heard about the bombs?” was after that. All the soldiers including him were happy because they knew that atomic bomb would end the war very shortly. Then came the “What weapons are you familiar with?” Brooks talked about how he was also a Chief Gunner’s mate and was qualified to use all of them. One boat, that he was on, had 16 torpedoes, but was only engaged by the enemy once. The boat he was on was engaged by five ships, four destroyers and a heavy battle cruiser, and won. After that he was asked what the most effective weapon was and he simply responded “aircraft.” The Japanese proved this at Pearl Harbor. A questions that’s answer surprised me was then asked, “Would you say the relations between the US and Japanese were good after the war was over?” The answer was yes, once the war was over, they were done and just gave up. Brooks actually had a conversation with a few ex-Japanese officers when he was stationed in Japan after the war.” “What do you believe was the difference between World War II and Iraq?” was asked. Brooks explained that in World War II, we knew our enemies, in Iraq we have an idea but nothing is certain about them. A few other questions were asked then, “Did Yamamoto make a good decision bombing Pearl Harbor?” He answered with a strong "no" and that even Yamamoto himself said that he “woke a sleeping giant.” The question “What were your feelings when you went to fight?” was asked as we asked the last few questions. Brooks just said that they were doing what they were told, yes it was exciting, and it was weird because you always felt like nothing ever happened to you. “Did you get to talk to your family much?” was asked. No, not a lot it was primarily through writing but that could take a long time. The last question was “What did you do in your free time?” The response was, mostly study for the next advancement. Brooks did a of GED studying.

This was a very interesting project or report. I enjoyed interviewing Harry Books. He has a lot of good stories to contribute along with a personal view of the war. This experience really changed my perspective of the war, giving me a great amount of respect for the men and women in the armed force. I was very surprised that the answer to, were the relations good firth after the war, was actually yes. When I imagined it before the first words that came up was Bad Blood because I thought that the Americans or Japanese were mad at each other or had a grudge after it ended. This interview gave me a much more knowledgeable feeling about World War II. I think this is a good project which should be continued in the future.