Oldest Living US World War Two Veteran Turns 111
Lawrence Brooks, considered to be the oldest living World War Two veteran in the US, has just celebrated his 111th birthday.
Born on September 12, 1909, he served in the 91st Engineer Battalion stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines — predominately an African-American unit of the US Army.
He served as a support worker as well as being a servant to three white officers; he also reached the rank of private first class. His days would include tasks like shining officers’ shoes, cleaning bed sheets and anything else asked of him.
Ordinarily, Brooks would celebrate his birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. However, due to the current pandemic, the museum insisted on a socially-distanced celebration.
In an Instagram post, the museum explained:
While we weren’t able to have our usual birthday party at the Museum this year, we were able to host a socially distanced celebration that he could view safely from his porch.
In addition to flyovers, a cake, and a personal performance from the Victory Belles, we were able to deliver the nearly 10,000 birthday cards sent in from around the world. Thank you to everyone who sent a card or birthday wishes for helping us make this day special in a new way!
The total stands at 9,768 birthday cards, letters and packages, coming from ‘all 50 states, plus Guam, the Virgin Islands and five other countries’, Nola reports.
During last year’s celebrations, Brooks earlier said, as per Fox News: ‘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.’
Brooks lost his wife Leona to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He’s the father of five children, 13 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren. His daughter Vanessa explained that he said he’d live to see 112 when he turned 100.
Ahead of last year’s birthday, the museum’s vice president, Peter Crean, said: ‘We absolutely love Mr Brooks. We’ve told him… as long as [he keeps] having birthdays, we are going to keep having birthday parties for [him] here. We consider him our veteran.’
Stephen Watson, president and CEO of the museum, added: ‘The museum’s mission is to tell important stories of the men and women who served in World War Two. We are honored to celebrate Lawrence Brooks, whose life and service are filled with such stories of bravery and determination.’
As for his secret to longevity, Lawrence told National Geographic: ‘Serve God, and be nice to people.’
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CreditsThe National WWII Museum/Instagram and 3 others
The National WWII Museum/Instagram