I was contacted earlier this week in regards to a veteran's memorial pinning. The veteran had served the US Navy from 1942 until 1973. He retired after 30 years of service. His name, CDR John E. Brooks. He is a grandfather, father of two, and a loving husband. His family all talk of what an important impact he has had on their lives and how this time with him must be remembered.
When I pulled into the driveway, I was immediately greeted by family and was welcomed into the Brooks family home. As soon as I got past the front door, there sat Mr. Brooks in his chair, with his wife in a chair next to him. There were at least 5 others (all women)--family, friends and assisted help. We all joked that he got to spend this lovely morning surrounded by a bunch of women. He smiled and I immediately saw the gem he was. He was sweet, soft-eyed and willing to smile for pictures I was taking of him.
It was fascinating as I looked over the walls in his home at all the letters of recognition, the awards, the photos this man had from his Navy career. He led an impressive life. His granddaughter was able to show just the surface of her grandfather's legacy.
Mr. Brooks was able to have family call his son, and FaceTime for the memorial pinning. I am not sure Mr. Brooks knew what all he was in for that morning because his face seemed to light up in surprise as he read over the certificate he was handed as it was read aloud to him. He was thanked for his service in a most sincere and official way and was given a pin to show recognition for his service in the US Navy. It was a beautiful little ceremony surrounded by his closest loved ones. I remember he said, "I'm just surprised," as he read over his certificate. "Surprised?" he was asked. "Well, I just never thought about it like this, I guess", said Mr. Brooks.
A man who lived his life in service of others and our country, humbled that we thought of him! I have been told by the wisest people I know that, "nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer." I imagine Mr. Brooks was one of those souls being referred to in this quote.
Thank you Mr. Brooks, for your service, your heart and your legacy.
CDR John E. Brooks, SC, USN, retired 1 April 1973 after 30 years of naval service.
Born in 1922, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an Aviation Cadet in 1942. After attaining the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, he was commissioned an Ensign in the Supply Corps of the U.S. Navy in 1954.
CDR received his Bachelors Degree from the College of Saint Joseph on the Rio Grande in 1953.
His Duty Stations included Charleston, S.C., Arzew, Algeria; Bizarre; Tunisia; Palemo; Sicily; Staff, Commander Service Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; USS Vulcan (photo below); Assistance Ordnance Property and Munitions Officer (U.S. Army), Sandia Base, Albequerqe, New Mexico; Navy Special Weapons Unit 1233; Special Weapons Unit, Atlantic; Staff Commander, Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; under instruction, Navy Supply Corps School; USS Intrepid (photo below); Staff, Commander, Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; OINC Southeast Field Food Service Team; under instruction, Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, virginia; USS Forrestal; BUSANDA; Navy Subsistence Office; Navy Ships Engineering Center; Headquarters, Ships System Commend; Naval Station, Washington, D.C.; andNaval District Washington.