Holmes County High School honors local veterans

Published: Monday, November 11, 2013 at 16:14 PM.

“As a Flight Surgeon, Dr. Brooks was responsible for making sure that flight personnel were healthy enough to fly, but just as important he had to know exactly how a pilot feels, which required that he fly with them routinely,” she said. “Unlike Air Force pilots, Navy pilots have to be able to take off and land on a moving carrier flight deck only 600 feet long, the length of two football fields; a very dangerous occupation.”

She said he was transferred to an experimental jet fighter squadron in Point Mugu, Calif. near Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is the headquarters of the Pacific missile range.

He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and participated in high altitude, high-speed weapon and radar research, she said.

“On one occasion, as Dr. Brooks flew radar-intercept in the back seat of an F-4 Phantom jet off of the coast of California, his pilot attempted to land on the carrier deck, but the tail hook of the jet failed to catch one of the three cables that crossed the flight deck,” said Brooks. “The jet stalled and started to fall into the water in front of the carrier, which meant certain death. Fortunately the pilot, a former Blue Angel, gunned the engine and the jet came alive again and finally lifted them out of harms way, spraying seawater on everyone on the flight deck.”

She said there was another incident where a pilot got lost over the Pacific Ocean but thanks to another pilot finding them on radar, guided them to the runway.

“These are only two examples of the many narrow escapes for Dr. Brooks during his Navy career,” she said. “In April 1961, a young and inexperienced President John F. Kennedy faced the first major crisis of his presidency when the tiny island of Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of Florida, was quickly becoming a foothold for Communist Russia in the Western Hemisphere and President Kennedy’s challenge was to stop this incursion without starting World War III. He decided to help the Cuban rebels by sending U.S. aircraft to provide air support but the first wave was unsuccessful and President Kennedy cancelled the second wave of aircraft leaving many freedom fighters stranded.”

She said among those in route from California to Cuba was radar intercepting officer Lt. Commander Herbert Brooks aboard an F-4 Phantom jet.



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