America’s oldest World War II veteran was treated to a flyover as he celebrated his 111th birthday on Saturday.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way our military veterans are honored. Last year, New Orleans native Lawrence Brooks received cupcakes, a musical serenade and numerous kisses at the National World War II Museum as the facility hosted him for the fifth consecutive year. This year, Brooks watched from his porch as a squadron of World War II-era aircraft flew in formation over his neighborhood, The Times-Picayune reported.
Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, according to a news release by the museum. Brooks' unit was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II, according to Military Times. He was a private first class and was a servant to three white officers in his battalion, according to the museum.
“I feel great, feel wonderful,” Brooks told WWL-TV after visiting the New Orleans VA Hospital on Thursday.
On Saturday, Brooks danced a two-step while the Victory Belles trio stood on the sidewalk in front of his home and sang “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, the Times-Picayune reported.
The museum encouraged people to send Brooks birthday cards and he had received nearly 10,000 by Saturday, WDSU reported. The 9,768 birthday cards, letters and packages came from all 50 states, plus Guam, the Virgin Islands and five other countries, the Times-Picayune reported.
“We just thought there has to be some way that we can still celebrate him in a way that is safe but also gets more people involved,” Amber Mitchell, the museums’s assistant director of public engagement, told WDSU.
During the ceremony and the car parade that followed, Brooks smiled and waved, the Times-Picayune reported.
“God bless all of you. Every one of you,” Brooks said as he wore a New Orleans Saints facemask.