The Few, The Proud, The Ivy-Leaguer

Peter H. Brooks '06

Laura C. Mckiernan

Exeter grad, Ivy-leaguer, and Marine. Peter H. Brooks ’06 breaks the mold.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, inspired Brooks­—Brooksy to his friends—to join the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) the summer before his first year at Harvard. But after his third year, he decided to switch to the Marines.

“I wanted to be more focused on people and training and leading young troops,” he says.

Joining the Marines ROTC means joining the grunts—and one of the most demanding divisions of the military. Brooks is one of only three Harvard students currently involved in the Marines ROTC. About half of the Harvardians who try the program drop out before graduating.

Brooks, in contrast, has not only persevered: he’s been promoted. He was recently named battalion commander, putting him in charge of 65 Harvard, MIT, and Tufts cadets. “I now have six stripes on my arm instead of two,” Brooks says, perhaps more modestly than he should.

Last summer, forsaking the beach, the Massachusetts native also persevered through six grueling weeks of boot camp in Quantico, Va. “It’s hell,” he says. “It’s five in the morning, you’re up, you have the lights turned on, you’re standing in line, you’re yelling.” And most Harvard students think 10 a.m. classes are bad.

But ROTC isn’t all misery. “I flew in a T-34 plane and go stick time and did loops and flips and stuff like that over San Diego and Tijuana,” Brooks says. “I threw up for the next fifteen minutes.”

After he graduates, Brooks will go on to further officer training, and by next year, at the age of 22, he will be responsible for his own platoon. In all likelihood, he will be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan in the near future.

But before heading off to the desert, Brooksy, say his roommates, will party it up. “He’s a big fan of the Kong,” says Ben M. Niles ’06. “He likes to go up to the third floor and dance.”

And he’s also somewhat of a budding comedian, although his roommates offer a warning: “Think about it as your dad’s kinds of jokes,” says Niles.

Brooks didn’t disappoint. “Have you heard about the corduroy pillow? No? They make headlines.”

Now he does too.