A Louisiana Army veteran who served in World War II turned 110 on Sept. 12, making him the oldest living American World War II veteran.
Lawrence Brooks is also the second oldest living veteran in the world behind German Gustav Gerneth, who is 113, the New York Post reported.
A special party was given in Brooks honor on Thursday to celebrate the special occasion by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans; a tradition it has carried on for the veteran’s past five birthdays.
Brooks served in the Army from 1940 to 1945 in the 91st Engineer Battalion. A unit comprised mainly of black soldiers. Part of Brooks’ daily routine was to serve three white officers by cleaning their sheets, uniforms and shining their shoes, according to Fox News.
Brooks’ unit served in the Pacific theater of the War and Brooks was stationed both New Guinea and the Philippines as a Private 1st Class during the course of the war.
Brooks admitted that he loves being the center of attention and enjoys all of the kisses from the Victory Belles, a musical female trio from the museum.
“I do like the Victory Belles. They’re sweet girls,” he said,
“We absolutely love Mr. Brooks. We’ve told him, ‘As long as you keep having birthdays, we are going to keep having birthday parties for you here.’ We consider him ‘our veteran,’” said National WWII Museum Vice President Peter Crean.
The veteran’s daughter, Vanessa Brooks, 59, said her dad is blind in his right eye and has poor vision but other than that he has been very healthy, with the exception of low blood pressure and dehydration.
She said, “He sleeps later than he used to, and he has more pain because of his hip. But he likes to eat and loves to get out and see people.”
Brooks “credits his good health with long walks and chewing gum, a habit he used to replace cigarettes,” CBS News reported.
Brooks’ second wife, Leona passed away in 2005 after the couple was evacuated by helicopter in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Vanessa has a December wedding planned, which her father says he will walk her down the aisle, with the help of his walker, dubbed his “third leg.”
Brooks said, “I’ve started to think about not having many birthdays left. But I’m not worried about it, because God has let me live this long already. I think it’s because I’ve always liked people so much. Oh yes, I do.”
Richard Overton of Austin, Texas, who was 112, passed away in December of 2018, making Brooks the oldest still living World War II veteran in the country.
Brooks said, “That makes me feel good. Yes, indeed it does.”