There are probably few people in St. Clair County that don’t know Admiral Dennis M. Brooks, and once you met him you’d never forget. He had an exuberant personality and a distinctive voice that lent well to the amazing stories he would tell about his service in the U. S. Navy.
Rear Admiral Dennis M. Brooks passed away on Monday, Nov. 12, the day Veteran’s Day was observed.
“His relaxed, cordial attitude and genial disposition allows but a glimpse of the high-powered man who rose steadily through the U.S. Navy to be first Commander, Joint Task Force, Middle East. But that man is quite evident when you observe his enthusiasm and dedication to causes in his state and his community,” it stated on the Decatur Rotary website. “Rear Admiral Dennis M. Brooks’s title reads USN, Retired, but he hasn’t taken the word to heart. He merely changed venues of service, exchanged one passion for another.”
“I had a passion for the Navy,” he said. “Now I have a passion for Rotary.” Admiral Brooks traveled the state as the 2006-2007 Rotary District Governor for District 6860, North and Central Alabama – one of many posts he has held in the world’s first and largest service organization.
“Next to the Navy, Rotary was his next greatest calling,” said his son, Mark Brooks.
He equates two standards of conduct, the laws set forth in The United States Constitution, and the universal Rotary standard of behavior, the Four-Way Test. Both, he said, are standards that transcend borders and generations, are not based on culture or religion, are both beautifully crafted and easy to understand. Both have captured his imagination and his allegiance.
“There was only one Admiral Brooks,” said Elmer Harris, a long time friend and fellow Rotarian. “He was always a military man and a gentleman. He loved to talk about his past to learn from it. He had a good heart and good intentions in everything he did. We will miss our friend Dennis Brooks.”
The boy, Dennis Brooks, grew up in Fairfield and attended Fairfield High School, as did his wife, Lorrie. After graduation from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in 1957, he married University of Alabama student, Lorrie (UA, ’60), and began a notable thirty-five year career and over 50 year marriage.
His military accomplishments are legion. He served as naval officer, fighter pilot (logging 990 carrier landings), test pilot, USNA academic faculty member, commander of two navy fighter squadrons. He commanded the USS Kansas City (AOR-3), and USS Constellation (CV-64). He was Commander, Battle Force, and Commander, Carrier Strike Force, of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and in 1987-88, he was the first commander of Joint Task Force, Middle East, commanding all U.S. Forces in the Persian Gulf region, conducting combat and other operations in support of national policy. At retirement, he was Deputy Director, Operations, National Systems Support for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy Director, Military Support, National Reconnaissance Office, Pentagon.
Thirty-five years saw Dennis and Lorrie based out of numerous sites including Carmel, San Diego, San Francisco, CA and Virginia Beach, Pensacola, Kingsville, TX, St. Louis, and Subic Bay, Republic of Philippines.
They have three children, Dennis Mark, Amy Michelle Miller and Allison Lynn Middlebrook. Mark has followed his father’s path and is a Navy Commander, selected for Captain. Dennis and Lorrie retired to Pell City in 1992, drawn “back home” by roots and family.
“We’ve been friends for a long time, since he moved here in 1992,” said Judge Bill Hereford. “He has a lot of friends in this area. It’s important to me that people remember him for the hero that he was. He never stopped serving.”
In service to his community, Brooks served as president and chairman of the board of Pell City’s Habitat for Humanity, elder of the First Presbyterian Church, Talladega, was on the board of the Eastern Health Foundation and was director of Choccolocco/Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
“Admiral Dennis Brooks is a patriot, a prominent veteran who has continued to be an active participant in our country’s processes. We’re proud to salute Dennis and Lorrie, and we thank them for their dedicated service to us all.”