Pvt. Robert Harold Brooks
| Pvt. Robert H. Brooks was the
son of Adline &. Ray Brooks. He was born
in October 8, 1915, in McFarland, Kentucky.
He was raised in Sadieville, Kentucky, with his
two sisters. As an adult, he moved to
Cincinnati, Ohio, where he enlisted in the U.S.
Army in late 1940.
In November 1940, Robert became a member of D
Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. The reason
he joined the company was that the company had
only 66 men. He trained at Fort Knox,
Kentucky, where he qualified as a half-track and
a tank driver. He attended track vehicle
maintenance school at Ft. Knox and was assigned
to the maintenance section of D Company.
He also drove the half track of Sgt. Morgan
French who was in charge of tank maintenance.
In late August 1941, Robert and the rest of the 192nd went on maneuvers in Louisiana. They had no idea that they had already been selected for overseas duty. At Camp Polk at the end of the maneuvers, Robert and the other members of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas. Each man was given a two week pass home.
By train, D Company traveled to San
Francisco. From there, Robert and the
other members of the company took a ferry to
Angel Island. They were inoculated and
than boarded ships for the Philippines.
After arriving in the
Philippines, the battalion was housed in tents
since their barracks were unfinished.
On Monday, December 8, 1941, at 12:45 in the
afternoon, just ten hours after the attack on
Pearl Harbor, Japanese planes appeared over
Clark Field. Most of the members of D
Company had gone to lunch. One man had
been left behind with each tank. Robert was with
two of the mechanics from maintenance working on
tanks when the first bombs began to fall.
When the news of his death reached Fort Knox, the commanding General, Jacob Devers, decided that a parade ground should be named in his honor. One of General Dever's subordinates called the Farmer's Deposit Bank in Sadieville, attempting to reach Robert's parents. As it turned out, the bank had the only phone in the town. W. T. Warring at the bank answered the phone. The aide asked if it would be possible for someone from the town to be present at the dedication ceremony.
The aide asked Mr. Warring if he could tell him anything about Robert's parents. Mr. Warring said, " His parents are tenant farmers, ordinary Black people; maybe you could contact them and see if they could come."
The general's representative hung up the phone and immediately called back. He said to Mr. Warring, "Did you say they were Black?" Warring responded, "Yes, his mother and father are very dark." The aide felt that this might change the situation. When he reported back to General Devers, the general said, "It did not matter whether or not Robert was Black, what mattered was that he had given his life for his country."
The ceremony dedicating the parade ground in honor of Robert Brooks was held with Robert's parents present. During the dedication, General Devers said in his dedication speech, "In death there is no grade or rank. And in this greatest democracy the world has ever known, neither riches nor poverty, neither creed nor race, draws a line of demarcation in this hour of national crisis."
After the war, Robert Brooks' remains were moved to the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila. He still lies there today with the other members of his battalion. He was posthumously promoted to Private First Class.