NEW ORLEANS – A Louisiana man who is the oldest WWII veteran living in the United States celebrated his 112th birthday.
Lawrence Brooks celebrated Sunday with a drive-through party at his New Orleans home hosted by the National World War II Museum, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported. He also received greetings from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who tweeted, “Mr. Brooks, the whole State of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we wish you all a happy birthday.
The museum has hosted parties for Brooks in the past, although the coronavirus pandemic has turned those events into drive-thru celebrations for the past two years.
This year’s festivities included a jeep parade, a live performance by the museum’s vocal trio, and entertainment from New Orleans musicians. The city also recognized Brooks’ birthday with an official proclamation.
Born in Norwood, Louisiana, in 1909, Brooks has lived in New Orleans since 1929. Enlisted in 1940, he was a Private in the Army’s 91st Mainly Black Engineer Battalion, a unit stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines and who built infrastructure such as bridges, roads and airstrips.
In an oral history on his service posted on YouTube, Brooks also described how he was delivering a load of barbed wire to the front when one of the engines on the C-47 he was traveling in went extinct.
After they threw in the barbed wire to save weight, he walked over to the cockpit. He told the pilot and the co-pilot that since they were the only two with parachutes, if they had to jump on them, he was going to hang on to one of them.
“We got there,” he said with a laugh. “We had a good laugh about it. “