Memoir of Stan Brooks
Stan was born March 30, 1922 in Elgin, Texas. He was the youngest in a family of 4 boys and 2 girls. Since his Mother came from a family of 13 and Dad from a family of 12, 6 children was no big deal.
In 1926, the family moved to Austin, Texas. The purpose, partly, was to be near the University so the children could attend college. Also, his Dad had been able to borrow money to open up a furniture store at 408 Congress.
Stan attended the Austin Public Schools, graduating in 1940. As two of his siblings were attending the University of Texas, Stan decided to join his two older brothers in California to work at Lockheed Aircraft Company, building P-38 Lightening fighter planes.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the plans aforementioned changed. Stan applied to take tests with the goal of becoming a pilot. He passed the written tests. However, during his physical, it was discovered that he was red-green colorblind. This fact prevented him from pursuing pilot training.
Stan then requested to go back to Austin, where he was inducted into service and bused to San Antonio. He was assigned to the Army Air Force, and sent to Buckley Field. At Buckley, recruits were engaged in physical training. From Buckley, he was sent to Lowry Field, Colorado. At Lowry, he learned about and shot all kinds of weaponry, i.e., the Colt .45, .30 cal machine gun, the .50 cal machine gun, the 20 mm cannon, the 75 mm cannon, and the Springfield and Garand rifles.
At that point, the Army asked for volunteers to become crewmen on the B-17 Flying Fortress. Stan and 2 of his closest buddies volunteered. Lo and behold! As is typical with the Army, ALL recruits were sent for flight training on the B-17.
After Stan trained as a right waist gunner, he received his corporal stripes and a raise to $59 a month!
As part of advanced training, he began high-altitude flight training, i.e., 20,000 to about 26,000 feet. The B-17 was not pressurized and the waist gunner position was an open hold, i.e., completely exposed to the elements.
At any rate, the high altitude caused Stan’s ear drums to bleed. He was then grounded by the flight surgeon. He was disappointed, but the fact is it probably saved his life. The casualties in B-17 and B-24 flights over Germany were greater, per capita, than the Marines, infantry, or any other W.W.II service.
Eventually, Stan was sent on a converted banana boat, the U.S.S. General Meigs, with 5500 other G.I.’s for company. After a 4-day journey from Cape Hatteras, they reached their destination at Salerno, Italy.
At that point, Stan was assigned to an air group, consisting of Douglas A-20 and A-26 medium bombers. The primary assignment of the bombers were low-level bombing, and strafing of the enemy.
His unit was a part of a rather long, arduous, and costly campaign. The Italian campaign is often called the “forgotten campaign” of the war. The fact is that the Mediterranean campaign resulted in greater casualties and loss of life than any of the other campaigns, including the Normandy landing, the advancement into Germany, or the Pacific theater campaign.
After the defeat of Germany, many G.I.’s with the longest service were sent home. But Stan and those with a shorter term served were destined for Japan.
However, after going through the Panama Canal and while waiting for further orders, Japan surrendered. At that time, the ship went back through the canal, then home to the U.S. and separation.
After arriving back in Austin and enjoying family and friends, Stan enrolled at the University of Texas. In 1950, Stan received his degree of Bachelor of Science in Education, and while working as a teacher and a counselor in Wellington, Texas, he earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling and Educational Administration in 1955.
Stan subsequently served 35 years in Belton, Texas; Alice, Texas; and then in Austin, Texas.
His service included senior high school Counselor, Principal of junior high, and Supervisor of Secondary Counselors.
He is now living, yes, still living, in Austin, Texas.