The oldest U.S. WWII vet, Lawrence Brooks, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 112. He died in his home in New Orleans, L.A.
His daughter and caregiver, Vanessa Brooks, reported that his health had been declining over recent months. So much so that he was constantly in and out of the local veteran’s hospital. Even with his health problems he got to enjoy the holidays with his family. Brooks said that he was alert and enjoying the time he had with those around them. And, of course, he spent his last few months watching the Saints play.
Lawrence Brooks was popular around town, to say the least. As the oldest living vet, he was often celebrated by residents of his hometown of New Orleans, L.A. Throughout the years, his birthday was celebrated by many. Namely, the National World War II Museum. Every year, people would get together to wish the vet a happy birthday. Over time, the oldest vet received more than 10,000 birthday cards and too many gifts to count.
Oldest Vet Recounted His Time in the War
Lawrence Brooks was drafted into the Army in 1940. He served in his home state of Louisiana and also served in Texas. The vet completed his obligatory one-year service, but it wasn’t too long before he was once again in the Army. A few weeks after finishing his mandatory service, the attack on Pearl Harbor happened. During one of his many oral history interviews with the National World War II Museum, Brooks said they immediately just came back to get him. “There was no question,” Brooks said. ‘They just came right back and got me again.”
The vet was then sent to Mississippi, where he joined the 91st Engineer Battalion. He then traveled up to Pennsylvania for vaccinations and training before being shipped out. Ultimately, Brooks ended up in Queensland, Australia. The area was a key place of defense against Japan. Brooks often talked about his time in Australia, and how much he loved the people there. “They were nice people, the Australians,” he reminisced. “They were wonderful.”
Lawrence Brooks never saw combat while he was in Australia. Instead, he spent his driving and cooking for three Army officers. His love for Australia was partly because he had the freedom to explore the area. Due to traveling back and forth with the officers, he got to know the area well and even made friends.
A Good Life for A Good Soldier
Lawrence Brooks’ friends were many, and it’s evident why. He focused on the good parts of things and laughter was often a big part of his day. He remained devoted to his country up until the very end. In fact, he just recently had his Army uniform replaced. His original was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. His daughter, Vanessa, stated that he will be buried in his new uniform. It’s what he wanted.
When asked what he would like to be remembered by, the vet answered easily: “I would like to be remembered as a strong man. A good soldier.”