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Sonora man returns from fighting in the Middle East


After a year of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sonoran Evan Brooks returned to U.S. soil Sunday.

He touched down in Bangor, Maine, and by yesterday had returned to his base camp in Fort Campbell, Ky.

"It's been quite an ordeal," said Evan's father, Ron Brooks.

"Evan was in some really bad stuff."

Evan grew up in Sonora and graduated from Sonora High School in 1992. He joined the military and became a leader with the air assault unit of the 101st airborne division — known as the Iron Rakkasans — a Japanese name from World War II meaning "umbrellas from the sky."

Ron Brooks said the Iron Rakkasans were one of the first units to reach Baghdad with the 3rd infantry division, and one of the first to take Saddam International Airport in Baghdad and Republican Guard Headquarters.

Evan also helped repair dilapidated homes, schools and irrigation systems while in Iraq, his father said.

"He said he felt he had done something for the people over there," Ron said.

Proud of his son, Ron Brooks recently delivered a photograph of Evan to the Veterans' Memorial Building in Sonora, where pictures of local people serving in the Middle East are being collected.

He went in with Evan's picture and came out a member of the American Legion.

"I was drafted," he said.

Evan Brooks is the third generation of soldiers in his family.

Ron served in the U.S. Army for three years as chief of a helicopter crew during the Vietnam War, and his father, Leonard Brooks, 78, of Jamestown, was a seagoing marine who took 24 trips across the Atlantic in his four years of service during World War II.

"I didn't have a high rank, I just did the dirty jobs," Leonard said.

"We believe in this country, and believe in what it stands for," Ron said.

This tri-generational phenomenon has occurred only once before in the history of the Sonora post of the American Legion. Then, it was three generations of the Hobbs family.

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