NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana man who is the oldest living World War II veteran in the United States has marked his 112th birthday.
Lawrence Brooks celebrated his 112th birthday Sunday at his New Orleans residence hosted by The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. Louisiana Governor also sent greetings to Brooks. John Bel Edwards sent greetings via Twitter, saying, “Mr. Brooks. The entire state thanks you for serving and we wish you a happy birthday.”
Brooks was previously a guest at the museum, but since the outbreak of the coronavirus in 2002, the celebrations have been moved to drive-by.
This year’s celebrations included a Jeep parade and a live performance by the museum’s vocal trio. There was also entertainment from New Orleans musicians. Brooks’ birthday was also celebrated by the city with an official proclamation.
Brooks was born in Norwood, Louisiana in 1909. He has been a resident of New Orleans since 1929. He was drafted in 1940 and was a private in Army’s mostly Black 91st Engineer Battalion. This unit was stationed at New Guinea and the Philippines, and built infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Brooks shared an oral history of his service on YouTube. He also mentioned how he was transporting barbed wire from the front to replace the engine of the C-47 that he was travelling in.
Brooks made his way back to the cockpit after he had dumped the barbedwire to save weight. He informed the pilot and copilot that they were the only ones with parachutes so if they needed to jump, he would grab one.
He said, laughing, “We made the trip though.” We had a great time laughing about it.”