Barty Brooks, born into a farming family in Martha, Oklahoma in 1929, had agriculture in his blood from early on. The family later moved to Lewisville, Texas, just northwest of Dallas. Barty played football in high school and later studied at Texas A&M where he joined the Cadet Corps, as all students were required to do at the time. At six feet-three inches Brooks towered over lower classmen, to whom he became known as “Black Bart.”
But if Black Bart had a dark side, it didn’t show off of the drill field; he sang in the cadet chorus and volunteered his time in numerous jobs in the Future Farmers of America—historian, magazine staff, and publicity chairman. He was a model student and one of the nation's finest up-and-coming military officers.
Brooks graduated in 1952 with a degree in agriculture education. But flying had by then captured his fancy. After collecting his ROTC commission he headed to Columbus AFB, Mississippi for basic flight training.
John Wilson, Bart's friend and classmate at Columbus reflected that because of his training at Texas A&M, Bart was a model officer. “He wore the uniform well. He was well liked and represented the Air Force as well as any officer. He was just a super person.”
Bart's Yearbook Photo
After Columbus Brooks went on to Laredo, Texas for jet training, then reported to the 311th Fighter-Bomber Wing in Korea. After Korea he was assigned to the 1708th Wing at Kelly AFB, Texas.