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Fallen Heroes Details

In Memory Of
Kirk Brookbush
San Francisco Police Department, CA
End of watch: 2000-01-11
Aircraft: Bell OH58
Aircraft Mechanic Officer James Dougherty, 56, was killed when his helicopter, "Air One", went down in a flat and barren farm field near Interstate 5 in Crows Landing, about 80 miles east of San Francisco and 30 miles southwest of Modesto. Pilot Inspector Kirk Brookbush, 49, was also killed. Both men had been with the force for more than 25 years.

After active duty in Vietnam, Brookbush served in a Long Range Reconnaissance Platoon of the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment (Airborne), and one year with the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. He joined the San Francisco Police Department on September 11, 1972. His career took him through rotations at four different police stations, the Department Specialist Team (1985-1988), the Tactical Unit (1988-1990), the Crime Scene Investigations Unit (1994-1999), and the Air Support Unit to which he was assigned in August 1999. He was promoted to the rank of Inspector last year.

Brookbush, the department's only chopper pilot since he took over in October, also served as a fixed-wing pilot with the 82nd Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He was well known for making parachute jumps into Candlestick Park before Giants and 49er games.

Chief Lau said that Brookbush's flight instructor described him as one of the most safety-minded and conscientious pilots he's ever trained. He was awarded a gold medal, the department's highest award, in 1980 after capturing a man who shot his partner.

Brookbush, who was 49 years old, brought enthusiasm and expertise to each of his assignments, along with a methodical and conscientious approach to his work that made him extremely valuable to the Department. He was an avid and experienced aviator, licensed to fly several different types of planes and helicopters.

During his 27 years in the Department, he earned a Gold Medal of Valor, three Police Commission Commendations, and 65 Captain's Commendations. Outgoing and personable, he was particularly popular with the public he served; he received 68 Citizen Complimentary letters.

His wife Suzanne and his son Andrew survive Brookbush. They lived in Hayward, not far from the airport where he kept his small plane.

Thoughts and Memories of Kirk Brookbush

I was surprised and saddened to find that someone I knew and respected was listed as killed in the line of duty. Last Thursday I was visiting the California Capitol and noticed Kirk's name on the plaque for the year 2000 at the memorial of police officers.

I was a flight instructor at San Carlos airport in the late 70's and Kirk was a student of mine in 1978 and 1979. I helped him achieve his Commercial and Instrument ratings. He had said he wanted to go on and make aviation a big part of his life. He liked to talk about his skydiving exploits too. I will say one thing about Kirk: once you meet him you never forget him. The staff at Flood Aviation (where I worked) and I always enjoyed his presence and his stories, and would talk about him long after he had left the building. I got the impression that he is someone who I would not want to be chasing me if I was a bad guy. I have never known a tougher guy, yet he knew when to use it, and when not to.

I had lost touch with him and just about everyone from that job, but wanted to relay these few thoughts, at least, for a man who I was proud to know. Thanks for providing this site to do just that.
Bob Barnett