“Nurturing Fruit On The Tree”: Leaders Develop Leaders Throughout A Career

Vincent Brooks


In this second interview with General (Ret.) Vincent Brooks, USMA ‘80, he addresses several themes throughout his career. He begins the interview reflecting on the life of Henry O. Flipper, USMA 1877, the first African-American graduate of West Point and some of Flipper’s views about African-American career paths in the U.S. Army in the early 20th Century. Brooks then reflects on his time at the 82nd Airborne as a Lieutenant, and how he tried to get away from the limelight he experienced as the first African-American First Captain at West Point. At Fort Bragg, even though the enlisted ranks were very diverse, the officer corps was overwhelmingly white. In the Division, there were only five African-American officers between the ranks of Captain and Colonel. On one hand, being in such a minority, he felt pressure to be the best, but on the other hand, he felt a sense of support from other African-Americans on post. He then discusses mentorship, and the give-and-take he experienced throughout his career helping other Officers get the right positions for career progression, harkening back to Flipper’s earlier observations. Finally, he describes his time as an aide-de-camp to General Ron Griffith, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and how reputation and relationship matters.


name Vincent Brooks
institution USMA
graduation year 1980
service Army
unit U.S. Army Pacific
specialty Infantry
service dates 1980