“He was a beloved friend, a man of great faith and had a gentle spirit that inspired those around him.”
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Lawrence Brooks, the United States' oldest living World War II veteran, died Wednesday morning at his home in New Orleans. He was 112 years old.

His daughter and caregiver, Vanessa Brooks, told Army Times that his health had been declining and he had been "in and out" of the local veterans' hospital several times in recent months.

The National WWII Museum was the first to announce the sad news.

Lawrence Brooks
Credit: Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

"He was a beloved friend, a man of great faith and had a gentle spirit that inspired those around him. As the nation's oldest known living veteran, he proudly served our country during World War II, and returned home to serve his community and church," Stephen J. Watson, Museum President and CEO, said in a statement. "His kindness, smile and sense of humor connected him to generations of people who loved and admired him. We send our sincerest condolences to his daughter Vanessa and the entire Brooks family."

The son of sharecroppers, born in Norwood, Louisiana, on September 12, 1909, Brooks served in the predominantly Black 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. According to the museum, he was a servant to three white officers in his battalion and attained the rank of Private 1st Class during the war.

After the war, Brooks worked as a forklift operator before retiring at age 70. He had five children, five stepchildren, 13 grandchildren, and dozens of great-grandchildren. His second wife Leona died shortly after they were evacuated by helicopter following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

WWII Vet Lawrence Brooks
Credit: Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

Brooks spent his final years as a local celebrity, celebrating his birthdays at The National WWII Museum and sharing his wisdom with the media. For his 112th birthday in September, the museum arranged a small, socially distanced birthday celebration at his home, complete with a performance from the museum's vocal trio, The Victory Belles.

Rest in peace, Mr. Brooks.