Toney Brooks is the lead equipment specialist in the Maintenance Division at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. He’s worked at YPG since 1980.
Toney Brooks is the lead equipment specialist in the Maintenance Division at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. He’s worked at YPG since 1980. (Photo Credit: US Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Thousands of families have come and gone from Yuma Proving Ground (YPG). At one time or another the tightknit Army community played a role in their lives and made an impression on them but perhaps none like in the life of Toney Brooks.

Presently, Brooks is the Lead Equipment Specialist in the Maintenance Division at YPG. Back in 1964, he was a six year-old “Army brat” who moved to YPG with this family from Hawaii.

“I remember Saturday morning going to Cox Field with my Dad and watching him standing in formation before they could be released for the weekend. With all the pomp and circumstance of holding a formation. When you are a young kid it leaves an impression on you.”

Brooks has fond memories of his time growing up at YPG and attending James D. Price Elementary School.

“It was a lot of fun!”

He laughs that the items now displayed outside the Heritage Center were in use when he was a child.

“The big orange land train, I remember as a kid watching the whole train run when they were doing testing.”

Brooks remembers, the firing of the High Altitude Research Project known as the HARP gun, he was seven-years-old, “It shook all the windows on Main Post.”

He had a glimpse of space history too, “because they did some of the testing and running I remember seeing and touching the Moon buggy.”

At the time the Mobility Test Article was displayed at YPG for an organization/open house type event.

After three years the family moved. The elder Brooks retired yet the family stayed connected to YPG because Brooks’ father began working on the installation and he would help him during the summer.

Brooks followed his father’s path and joined the Army in June of 1976 and worked as a tracked and wheeled vehicle mechanic. That experience let to Brooks landing a job at YPG in June of 1980: he started as a heavy mechanic helper. He never imagined as a child he would end up making a life for himself at YPG.

Brooks has 40-years’ worth of stories about his time at YPG. Some of his fond memories that stand out include the time he met former President of the U.S. (POTUS) George Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush when they visited YPG while the former POTUS prepared for a free fall jump.

“I met them briefly when they were in that motor-pull when they had a break. That was awesome to meet somebody like that.”

While those are once in a lifetime moments Brooks says all his time at YPG has been fond…or else he would not still be here. Brooks has hit the mark where he can retire but says, “I am here because I love what I am doing and I am still having fun.”

When he started working at YPG he was the youngster listening to stories from the veteran employees

“I loved sitting down on breaks and we would talk. He has been in Yuma all his life. He would tell us stories how Yuma ended at 8th Street or driving cattle towards this area before the base. I would love listening to him.”

Now, Brooks is the man with the stories and advice.

“I kind of that guy,” he says laughing. “I’m proud of it. I truly enjoy mentoring the younger workers.”

YPG has played a huge role in Brooks’ life, he and his wife even married at the YPG Chapel. Brooks knows the work is important, YPG’s testing keeps our Warfighter safe, but says the people are who truly make YPG standout, “One thing that’s always been consistent. It’s always been the dedication of the people to the YPG mission.”