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Oldest living US WWII vet celebrates 112th birthday

Lawrence Brooks, the oldest American World War II veteran. (The National WWII Museum/TNS)
September 14, 2021

Lawrence Brooks, the oldest surviving U.S. World War II veteran, celebrated his 112th birthday over the weekend weekend.

Residents in Central City, La. celebrated Brooks’ birthday with a drive-by celebration outside his home, Nola.com reported.

Brooks was born in Norwood, La., in 1909 and was drafted into the Army in 1940, the Associated Press reported. Brooks served as a private in the Army’s primarily black 91st Engineer Battalion, which served in New Guinea and the Philippines and was tasked with building bridges, roads and airstrips during the war.

In an oral history shared with the National World War II Museum, Brooks described an experience during the war in which an engine went out while he was flying onboard a C-47 transport plane.

Brooks described dumping the load of barbed wire the plane was carrying to lighten its load before making his way to the pilot’s cockpit. Brooks said the plane only had two parachutes so if they had to jump, he planned to hang on to one of them.

“We made it though,” Brooks said. “We had a big laugh about that.”

The celebration for Brooks’ birthday was put on by the National World War II Museum. The museum has celebrated Brooks in a similar fashion for the last two years, gathering residents to parade outside his home.

This year’s festivities were complete with a Jeep parade live performance from the museum’s vocal trio, The Victory Belles. Other New Orleans musicians and live performers were also in attendance.

The museum tweeted, “Happy Birthday to Mr. Lawrence Brooks of NOLA! At 112, Mr. Brooks is the oldest living WWII vet in the US.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards also wished Brooks a happy birthday on Sunday.

“Happy 112th birthday to Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest living World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan. Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we all wish you a joyous birthday. #lagov,” Edwards tweeted.