World War II Veteran Celebrated 112th Birthday With Drive-By Party

In Summary

Lawrence Brooks was drafted in 1940 and served in the Army’s dominant Black 91st Engineer Battalion; his birthday is a celebration in New Orleans.

One of the oldest living World War II veterans in the United States got a chance to celebrate his 112th birthday on Sunday.  

Lawrence Brooks was honored at his home in New Orleans with a drive-by party hosted by the National World War II Museum, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported. Brooks also got a shoutout from Louisiana Governor 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.”  

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Brooks’ birthday parties were held at the National World War II Museum in previous years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Brooks to switch it up from a traditional party to a drive-by celebration for the last two years.  

This year’s party included a Jeep parade, a live performance from the museum’s vocal trio and entertainment from New Orleans musicians. Brooks’ birthday has become an official proclamation in New Orleans.  

Brooks was born in Norwood, Louisiana in 1909, and has lived in New Orleans since 1929. He was drafted in 1940 and served as a private in the Army’s dominant Black 91st Engineer Battalion. Brooks built infrastructures such as bridges, roads and airstrips in New Guinea and the Philippines.  

In a video posted on the National World War II Museum’s YouTube page, Brooks talked about how he was taking a load of barbed wire to the front when one of the engines of the C-47 he was riding in went out.  

The unit decided to throw out the barbed wire to conserve weight, and Brooks found his way to the cockpit. He told the pilots that since they were the only two with parachutes, if they have to jump out of the aircraft, then he will have to grab onto one of them.  

“We made it though,” he said, laughing. “We had a big laugh about that.”  

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