Oldest surviving WWII vet dies at 112 in New Orleans

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 11:06 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2022 at 12:30 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Lawrence Brooks, the United States’ oldest living World War II veteran, died Wednesday morning, according to his daughter and caregiver, Vanessa Brooks. He was 112 years old.

Vanessa Brooks told the Military Times her father’s health was winding down and he was in and out of the local veterans’ hospital several times in recent months but was still alert, enjoying the holidays and watching his beloved Saints play until the end.

The National World War II Museum released a statement saying, in part, it was “deeply saddened by the loss.”

“He was a dear friend, who celebrated his birthday with us every year starting in 2014, when he was just a spry 105-year-old. His consistent advice when asked for the secret behind his longevity was, “Serve God, and be nice to people.” We are feeling his loss heavily today at the Museum, and we offer our condolences to his daughter Vanessa and his family,” a post on Instagram read.

Brooks was one of fifteen children.

He was born in 1909 north of Baton Rouge in Norwood, Louisiana, and was raised outside of Stephenson, Mississippi, a small town where his family moved for work during the Depression.

FILE - World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds a photo of him taken in 1943, as he...
FILE - World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds a photo of him taken in 1943, as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, on Sept. 12, 2019. For Veterans Day, a group of Democratic lawmakers is reviving an effort to pay the families of Black servicemen who fought on behalf of the nation during World War II for benefits they were denied or prevented from taking full advantage of when they returned home from war. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)(Gerald Herbert | AP)

He was drafted into the US Army at the age of 31 and spent World War II in the predominantly African American 91st Engineer Battalion. He was stationed in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines. Classified as service personnel, he cleaned and cooked for three of the battalion’s white officers and attained the rank of Private 1st Class.

After the war, the museum says Brooks worked as a forklift operator for four decades, retiring in his seventies. His wife, Leona, died in November 2008, and he is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.

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