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Culture Beat / Sep. 22, 2020

Oldest WWII Vet Gets a Flyover

Lawrence Brooks of New Orleans turned 111 with a special treat.

Lawrence Brooks is the nation’s oldest World War II veteran, and he just celebrated his 111th birthday — or, as the hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Shire” would have put it, Eleventy First birthday. But his birthday party featured something not everyone gets to enjoy — a flyover by a squadron of World War II-era aircraft.

“Brooks stood on his front porch, tipped back his head and watched the planes leaving four streams of exhaust behind them,” reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “For the past six years, the National World War II Museum has hosted an annual party for Brooks. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the party came to the street in front of his Clara Street house, with museum staff delivering an entire carload of mail plus two more bins of mail toted there personally by Peter Crean, the museum’s vice president for education and access, who also hand-delivered a bouquet of roses.”

Despite the struggle of being a black man in the Army’s all-black 91st Engineer Battalion, Brooks says, “I know I served my country well.” And we’re grateful for that service.

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