Sunday marked Lawrence Brooks’ 112th birthday, prompting his title of the Oldest Living US Veteran. He celebrated with a drive-by party at his New Orleans home hosted by the National World War II Museum. (The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate).
He received best wishes from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who tweeted, “Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service, and we all wish you a joyous birthday.”
The museum continuously hosts parties for Brooks. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused these events to compromise into drive-by celebrations for the past two years.
This year’s festivities included:
- A Jeep parade.
- A live performance from the museum vocal trio.
- Entertainment from New Orleans musicians.
The city also recognized Brooks’ birthday with an official proclamation.
Born in 1909 in Norwood, Louisiana, Brooks has lived in New Orleans since 1929. He was drafted in 1940 and served as a private in the Army’s Black 91st Engineer Battalion. This unit was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines and built bridges, roads, and airstrips.
In a video posted on YouTube about his service and history, Brooks described one of his most prominent memories. On a mission to deliver a load of barbed wire to the front lines, one of the engines of the C-47 he was traveling in gave out.
After releasing the barbed wire to conserve weight, he made his way to the cockpit. The plane was going down, and he noticed the two pilots had the only parachutes on the aircraft. He told them that since they were the only two with parachutes, he would grab on to one of them if they had to jump for it.
“We made it, though,” he said, laughing. “We had a big laugh about that.”
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