America’s oldest living WWII veteran celebrates his 111th birthday with a military flypast

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The oldest living WWII veteran in America celebrated his 111th birthday with a full military flyover.

Lawrence Brooks enjoyed the tribute at a party held at his home in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was socially distanced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Brooks watched from his porch as Louisiana’s National World War II Museum’s vocal trio The Victory Belles sang Happy Birthday from outside his gate on Saturday.

He also received around 10,000 birthday cards thanks to a public campaign and watched an aerobatics show by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team and The Big Easy Wing.

America's oldest WWII veteran Lawrence Brooks at a socially distanced 111th birthday party held at his home in New Orleans, Louisiana, due to the coronavirus pandemic

America’s oldest WWII veteran Lawrence Brooks at a socially distanced 111th birthday party held at his home in New Orleans, Louisiana, due to the coronavirus pandemic

Mr Brooks was treated to a full military flypast over his home and watched an aerobatics show by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team and The Big Easy Wing

 Mr Brooks was treated to a full military flypast over his home and watched an aerobatics show by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team and The Big Easy Wing

Mr Brooks was born in 1909 and received around 10,000 birthday cards thanks to a public campaign

Mr Brooks was born in 1909 and received around 10,000 birthday cards thanks to a public campaign 

Mr Brooks was born in 1909 and served in the 91st Engineer Battalion in New Guinea and the Philippines from 1940 to 1945.

He was drafted at 31 years of age and served at a time when the military was still segregated, eventually reaching the rank of Private First Class.

The National World War II Museum’s Amber Mitchell said: ‘It is such an honor to have the oldest living U.S. veteran of World War II living so close to our institution. 

‘And it was meaningful for us to continue to celebrate Lawrence Brooks and his incredible life in a safe manner this year.

The birthday celebrations were organised by The National WWII Museum in New Orleans on Saturday

The birthday celebrations were organised by The National WWII Museum in New Orleans on Saturday

Lawrence Brooks (pictured on his 110th birthday last year holding a picture of himself taken in 1943) served in the predominately African-American 91st Engineer Battalion in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war

Lawrence Brooks (pictured on his 110th birthday last year holding a picture of himself taken in 1943) served in the predominately African-American 91st Engineer Battalion in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war

Brooks is serenaded by the Victory Belles last year, who were singing happy birthday to him during his 110th birthday celebration

Brooks is serenaded by the Victory Belles last year, who were singing happy birthday to him during his 110th birthday celebration

‘As we continue to lose members of The Greatest Generation, it is so important that we honor these men and women for their bravery and sacrifice while they are with us,’ she told Fox 8 New Orleans.

The museum has organised Mr Brooks’s birthday celebrations for the last five years, including a special 110th party last year. 

After his service, Brooks worked as a forklift operator and retired in his 70s. He has five children, 13 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

The museum told Insider: ‘There was a private celebration. The Victory Belles trio sang to him and there were two military flyovers.

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has organised Mr Brooks's birthday celebrations for the last five years, including a special 110th party last year (pictured)

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has organised Mr Brooks’s birthday celebrations for the last five years, including a special 110th party last year (pictured)

World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks sports a lipstick kiss on his cheek, planted by a member of the singing group Victory Belles, as he celebrated his 110th birthday last year

World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks sports a lipstick kiss on his cheek, planted by a member of the singing group Victory Belles, as he celebrated his 110th birthday last year

‘Everything was socially distanced and Mr. Brooks was on his porch. We did get close to 10,000 cards.

‘There was at least one card from every state and there were cards from seven different countries.’

Mr Brooks was born as one of 15 children in Norwood, Louisiana, and moved to New Orleans as a young man, working in a laundry and a parking garage before being drafted in the army.

He served a mandatory one-year term in the 91st Engineer Battalion, which was primarily responsible for building infrastructure, and was re-enlisted a month after leaving to help the US efforts in World War II.

Lawrence Brooks holds his hand to his heart during the singing of the National Anthem on his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans last year

Lawrence Brooks holds his hand to his heart during the singing of the National Anthem on his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans last year

He then spent 48 days on the Queen Mary, traveling from New York to Australia, in 1942, which had to zigzag through both the Atlantic and the Pacific in an effort to avoid German U-boats and Japanese submarines. 

At the time, the 91st was used more for physical labor than soldiering, leading to Brooks acting as an orderly for three white officers, driving them around, getting their meals and cleaning their uniforms, among other tasks.   

‘They just sort of took a liking to me,’ Brooks said of the officers. ‘They treated me like a soldier and not their servant.’

Despite not having to brandish a gun while serving, Brooks still faced life-threatening situations. 

A close up of the custom-made dog tag which states tat he is the oldest living World War II veteran in America

A close up of the custom-made dog tag which states tat he is the oldest living World War II veteran in America

The National World War II Museum's Amber Mitchell said: 'It is such an honor to have the oldest living U.S. veteran of World War II living so close to our institution'

The National World War II Museum’s Amber Mitchell said: ‘It is such an honor to have the oldest living U.S. veteran of World War II living so close to our institution’

In New Guinea, an incendiary bomb destroyed the tent that he lived in with seven other soldiers. Fortunately, they were out watching a movie at the time. 

And, during a return flight from Australia, he found himself helping to dump bails of barbed wire overboard in an effort to lighten the aircraft’s load when an engine cut out. 

In an oral history interview with the museum, Brooks said: ‘There was the pilot, the co-pilot and me and just two parachutes. 

‘I told them, “If we have to jump, I’m going to grab one of them.”‘ 

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