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Surviving World War II would leave any military veteran with a remarkable story to tell due to all they might endure. Today, one New Orleans man has the honor of being able to attest to his service in WWII while at the same time celebrating being the oldest veteran alive to serve in that war and being the oldest American citizen.
Lawrence Brooks is a retired Private First Class veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945 in a predominantly Black Battalion stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines.
Brooks recently celebrated his 112th birthday at his home in New Orleans, La. When the Vice President of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans was introduced to Brooks right before his 105th birthday, the museum made it a tradition to throw Brooks a birthday party every year.
“My father started talking about his military life when he was 105,” Brooks’ daughter, Vanessa Brooks said. “That is when I got familiar with his military life because in my childhood I never remembered my father talking about his military life. He only talks about the good parts of the military. He doesn’t say anything about it and I know he had bad days because we all have good and bad days.”
Vanessa acknowledges that if her father had not been drafted and those who fought beside him we would not be able to live the life we have today. Veterans like Lawerence sacrificed their lives to ensure that future generations have a better life.
When reflecting on his military experience Vanessa says her father sums it up by saying, “I had good times, I had bad times, but I put my good and bad together and try to forget about it.” First Class Private Brooks may not move as fast as he used to,but he’s still a proud Louisannian with a kind heart.