The oldest living World War II veteran in the U.S., a Louisiana man, has turned 112 years old.
The Veterans Affairs confirmed he is America’s oldest living veteran.
Lawrence Brooks was feted with a birthday drive-by at his home in New Orleans on Sunday, Sept. 12, with video showing the bespectacled vet waving to the tiny audience while wearing a mask and Saints jersey, according to New York Post.
Happy birthday Lawrence Brooks! The National WWII Museum in NOLA holding a drive-by bday celebration for him outside of his home. He’s the nation’s oldest veteran … turning 112 years old today!— Carmen Chau (@CChauFOX61) September 12, 2021
Thank you for your service, Mr. Brooks 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/cGe0pvzRoJ
Asked how he has managed to live so long, he advised others to “serve God and be nice to people.”
On Twitter, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also sent him greetings for his birthday: “Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we all wish you a joyous birthday.”
The museum has previously held parties for Brooks onsite, but due to the COVID pandemic, such gatherings have been reduced to drive-by festivities for the past two years.
Happy 112th birthday to Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest living World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan. Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we all wish you a joyous birthday. #lagov pic.twitter.com/MYNdrhnpH8— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) September 12, 2021
A Jeep parade, a live performance by the museum vocal trio, and entertainment by New Orleans musicians were among the highlights of this year’s activities. Brooks’ birthday was also commemorated with an official proclamation by the city.
Brooks, who was born in 1909 in Norwood, Louisiana, has lived in New Orleans since 1929. Drafted in 1940, he was a private in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion, stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines and developed infrastructures such as bridges, roads, and airstrips, AP news reported.
He trained at Camp Shelby in Mississippi for one year and received an honorable discharge in November 1941.
Brooks was ordered back into service when the Japanese destroyed Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
In 1945, he returned home to New Orleans after the war and worked as a forklift operator. He married and had five children, and he currently has thirteen grandchildren and twenty-two great-grandchildren.
In an oral history about his service aired on YouTube, Brooks also told how he was transporting a cargo of barbed wire to the front when one of the engines on the C-47 he was flying in went out.
He made his way to the cockpit after they dropped the barbed wire to save weight. He told the pilot and co-pilot that he would grab one of them if they had to jump for it because they were the only ones with parachutes.
“We made it though,” he said, laughing. “We had a big laugh about that.”