Oldest WWII Veteran Lives in New Orleans

Lily Cummings

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On Veteran’s Day, we celebrate the lives that fight for our freedom, but two months earlier each year, The National World War II Museum celebrates the life of New Orleans native, Lawrence Brooks.

Brooks birthday is Sept. 10, and each year the museum throws him a party with patriotic cupcakes, singing and kisses for Brooks from the Victory Belles, a prayer, and speeches.

This year, marked the 110th birthday of Lawrence Brooks, and made Brooks the oldest living World War II veteran.

The National World War II Museum Vice President, Peter Crean, said that the only other living veteran that held this title prior to Brooks, passed away a few months ago at the age of 113.

“He represents all that is great about the WWII generation. He’s a great guy and he has been a fixture in our community most of his life and great service to our country,” said Crean.

Brooks served in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion, a predominantly African-American battalion that was highly decorated for its service. By the end of the war, Brooks climbed the ranks to private first class.

Among those who attended were Brooks family and church members. Some think of Brooks as a hero, but his youngest daughter, Vanessa Brooks, disagrees.

“He’s still just Dad,” Vanessa said.

The museum has hosted Brooks’ birthday since he turned 105, and the museum staff said they plan to continue for years to come.

“I have the date marked off on my calendar,” said Crean, “and this room reserved for next year.”

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