Freedom Fighters: Dr. Ray Brooks - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Dr. Ray Brooks

 Dr. Ray Brooks has been president of Texas Bible Institute since 1972, but during World War II, Brooks was a 19-year-old who wanted to fly fighter planes.

God and the Navy had other plans, Brooks says.

The two hundred fifty foot long blimp that Dr, Ray Brooks flew during WWII was a far cry from the fighter plane he had dreamed of flying, when he joined the Naval Air Corps in 1942.

"I knew what I wanted to do, and that was to fly FU Corsair fighter planes," he says.

It seemed to be an unexpected set of circumstances that put Brooks in the pilot's seat of a blimp, but his daughter says it was God.

My daughter says, "God put you in a blimp to keep you alive."

Brooks signed up for blimp service, just to irritate a particularly obnoxious roommate who wanted the assignment. To his surprise, he was chosen over the obnoxious roommate and a number of others.

"That's why my daughter said, "God told you you'd gone in a fighter plane, you'd probably gotten killed," he recalled.

As a blimp pilot and navigator, Brooks flew out into the Atlantic Ocean looking for German submarines.

"If we passed over it and the gear told up, there was something down there we'd drop a flare, and we'd make a round and come back. Then we were told to call for the heavy aircraft to come in," he said.

Brooks says they were also told to get the blimp out of harm's way, since a single bullet from a sub could bring a it down.

"It would be very easy to shoot down a big one. If they couldn't hit a blimp, they were bad shots..

Brooks' blimp was never shot down, although there were others not so lucky.

"I had 1,300 hours in blimps. I had 12 hours in free balloons and had 230 some odd in planes," he said.

After the war ended, Brooks entered the Texas Bible Institute as a student, later became a part-time instructor while he pastored churches, and then became a full-time instructor. He became president of the school in 1972 and at the age of 92, is still serving as its president.

"I came in '53 to go to school and I can't graduate," he said.

As for his service in World War II, Dr. Ray Brooks insists he didn't do much, but we know better.

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