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“We were the first in almost everything we did…” (Oral history interview, 23:10)

   Harry William Brooks, Jr.
Collection image
Harry Brooks in uniform at his desk [n.d.]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army; Army
Unit: Quartermaster Corps; 2nd Battalion, 40th Artillery, 199th Infantry Brigade (Light); Office of Assistant Chief of Staff; 72nd Field Artillery Group; Army Director of Equal Opportunity Programs; 2nd Infantry Division
Service Location: Fort Dix, New Jersey; Japan; Korea; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Benning, Georgia; Syracuse, New York; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; also: Vietnam; Washington, DC; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Wertheim, Germany; Korea; Hawaii
Rank: First Lieutenant; Major General
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Over the course of his nearly thirty years in the Army, Major General Harry W. Brooks saw dramatic shifts in the landscape of opportunities available to African American soldiers. Enlisting in 1947, he was sent to Fort Dix to serve with the all-black 365th Infantry Division. Following service in Japan during the Korean War as part of an integrated unit, and combat in Vietnam, he was assigned to the Pentagon to oversee Army race relations and diversity programs. In his oral history interview, he emphasizes the importance of discipline and mentoring in the development of military leaders. In 1974, Brooks was promoted to major general, making him only the sixth African American flag officer in the Army. His collection includes a photograph album that narrates his experiences in Vietnam.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (37 min.)
 Other Materials
»View List (2 items)
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»Executive Order 9981
»Personal Snapshots: Picturing the Vietnam War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Athletics was the only point of mixing between white and black troops at Fort Dix; no changes at Fort Dix after 1948 Executive Order; Korea was the first time he served in an integrated unit. (01:37) Tapped to go train a battalion at Fort Benning to go to Vietnam; using expert gunnery skills to inspire competition and get battalion in order before Vietnam; very successful. (01:02) Serving as the Army Director of Equal Opportunity Programs; thought it might be a career-ender; turned out to be a very interesting opportunity; mentoring Colin Powell; his service paving the way for next generations. (06:02)
Key to his leadership style, listening to people, drawing out their best; unique perspective coming up from the ranks. (01:35)  
 Other Materials (2 items)
Biographical sketch Photo Album of Harry W. Brooks Jr./2nd Battalion, 40th Artillery 

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  October 26, 2011
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