Katterbach mourns soldier killed in car crash
Hardly anyone can remember Cpl. Brent Rooks without a smile on his face and a wrench in his hand, tinkering away under the hood of his car.
“He was a great mechanic who took great pride and ownership in his job,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Kenneth Gesch. “He was very responsible. He was always helping others.”
When Rooks, 28, of the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, wasn’t working on a car, he was usually driving around Germany in one — quite often with his close friend, Sgt. Maurice Paul, a German army soldier.
It was together that the two men died Oct. 9, in a single-car accident near Blaufelden, in the southern German state of Baden-Wurttemburg.
Dozens of Rooks’ friends from the 6-52 ADA packed the chapel in Katterbach Friday afternoon — along with Paul’s parents — to remember him and mourn his loss.
Rooks grew up in Kingston, Wash., northwest of Seattle, the son of a Navy veteran. After earning a high school diploma and attending community college, he, too, joined the Navy. He served five years aboard the USS Alabama, a Trident nuclear submarine based just a few miles from his home. As a crewmember, he earned recognition for stopping a secrecy violator who was trying to board the ship.
Two years later, Rooks re-enlisted — this time in the Army, as mechanic. In November 2003, he arrived with Battery E of the 6-52 ADA, as a shop foreman and section chief in charge of six soldiers. Earlier this year, his tool truck was selected as the best in V Corps.
What Rooks friends recall, though, is a soldier who loved to laugh and who would help anyone at a moment’s notice.
Spc. Detlev Johnson called him “an all-around person who would always help anybody, anytime, including driving to the airport or to the Shopette. He would help repair other soldiers’ cars if they asked him, without hesitation.”
His commanding officer, Capt. David Dee, recalled how one of the battery’s trucks broke down the night before an inspection.
“He jumped on the vehicle and worked all night,” Dee said. “I spoke with him about midnight and asked if he needed anything. He just looked up at me and said, ‘Don’t worry, sir, I’ll fix it.’ And he did.”
In his spare time, Rooks was an active member of a German car club and had quickly picked up the German language. Friends said he studied history and loved to visit local historical sites.
“He enjoyed life so much, and he lived it to the fullest,” said Pfc. Bobby Coon.
After the playing of taps, his friends lined up to salute Rooks’ helmet, rifle, dog tags and boots. Almost no one walked away dry-eyed.
“He displayed selfless service, and a desire to learn,” Dee said in his tribute. “If we all emulated Cpl. Rooks, the world would be a much better place.”
Rooks is survived by his parents, Dennis and Sandra Rooks of Port Ludlow, Wash., and two sisters, Tracy and Michelle.