New Orleans showed up and showed out as only NOLA could to honor the 112th birthday of a hometown World War II veteran.
Lawrence Brooks, the oldest living WWII vet, celebrated Sunday with a drive-by party at his New Orleans home hosted by the National World War II Museum, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported. He also received greetings from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who tweeted, “Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we all wish you a joyous birthday.”
Born in Norwood, Louisiana, in 1909, Brooks has lived in New Orleans since 1929. Drafted in 1940, he was a private in the Army’s mostly Black 91st Engineer Battalion, a unit that was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines and built infrastructure such as bridges, roads and airstrips. Brooks was a support worker for officers in his battalion, performing any task asked of him. He attained the rank of Private 1st Class during the war.
In the below oral history about his service, Brooks also described how he was delivering a load of barbed wire to the front when one of the engines of the C-47 he was traveling in went out. After they dumped the barbed wire to conserve weight, he made his way to the cockpit. He told the pilot and co-pilot that since they were the only two with parachutes, if they had to jump for it, he was going to grab on to one of them.
“We made it though,” he said laughing. “We had a big laugh about that.”
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