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Darnell Brooks's Story
Darrell Brooks was born in Ashe County, NC, on April 18, 1947, to Ina Mae Poe and Garney H. Brooks. He is the oldest of five children (in birth order: Darrell, Wanda, Linda, Helen, and Danny).
His father was born on October 22, 1921, and served during WWII. "He never wanted to talk about his service, and later we found out that he was working on some kind of chemical warfare."
Darrell's mother stayed home with the children until his little brother went to school. "I was about 12 or 13 at that time," he said; and then she took a job working for Sprague Electric Company in West Jefferson, NC.
In Darrell's words: "I graduated from Beaver Creek High School in 1965 and was drafted in May 1966. I went to Boot Hill at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where I lived in a tent for two months during the heat of summer. After basic training, I went to wireman's school for a month then was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia, where I trained to be a lineman. While there my instructor got bit by a brown recluse spider, and since he knew I had already trained to climb telephone poles I was asked to teach the group of six."
"My company commander took a liking to me and held me over in the training company. There I served as the shipping department clerk (I shipped men out to other facilities). When they arrived at the company, I received them, collected their records and assigned living quarters. When their orders were cut, I prepared their records and took them to the pharmacy to get their shots appropriate for where they were going. I stayed there for about six months. I had orders after my training to go to Germany, but my company commander talked me into signing up for Signal Officers Candidate School (OCS). I signed up and waited until they finally cut my orders for Artillery School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This was not what I had asked for, but my commander didn't have time to change the order, so I went to OCS and and immediately asked to be removed from the school. One month later I was transferred to Headquarters Battalion where I worked as a line crew leader on East Range. About a month later, I was transferred to West Range, where I repaired telephone communications lines on the West and Quanta Ranges. West Range was the training area for Artillery Officers and Quanta Range was a target area for Honest John Rockets. I only witnessed two fire power demonstrations, where these rockets where fired. I stayed there until I was discharged in early May of 1968."
Darrell enjoys making music on Friday nights with friends in West Jefferson at the old Greenfield Restaurant.