2d Lt Sidney P. Brooks
November 24, 1918 – September 19, 1943
Unit: 33rd Fighter Group, 99th Fighter Squadron
Sidney was the son of Jesse and Pauline Brooks of Cleveland, OH. He enlisted in the USAAF in 1941, and received his commission at Tuskegee in 1942. He was a graduate of Central High School in Cleveland where he was a football star. At the time of his enlistment, he was a junior at Ohio State University.
On Jun 18, 1943, along with five other P-40’s of the 99th Fighter Sq., he engaged 12 German fighters escorting a bombing raid headed toward the island of Pantelleria. The P-40s damaged two German planes and forced the others to disengage and withdraw with the bombers before reaching Pantelleria.
On Sep 17, 1943 he took off on a mission but soon had engine trouble and returned to land; but visibility was terrible and he thought he would overshoot and hit a brick wall at the end of the runway so he decided to do a belly landing. Unfortunately, he forgot to jettison his belly tank, which sheared off and left a trail of fuel which caught fire and engulfed the aircraft. He jumped out with his flight suit in flames which his pals soon put out. He was jovial even though his hands had been burned. He was taken to a British hospital where he dictated a letter to his wife and even said, “Get me my clothes, I’m getting out of here.”; but they kept him for the night. The next day pals went to see him but he had died of secondary shock and smoke inhalation.
Sidney P. Brooks is buried or memorialized at U.S. Soldiers and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, Washington, DC. This is a National American Cemetery administered through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.