This week, Louisiana lost an icon and our country lost a hero.

Lawrence Brooks was born about40 miles north of Baton Rouge in 1909. Over the last 112 years, Brooks has lived quite the life, battling the Jim Crow era in America, battling COVID-19 in his later years, and battling any enemy of America in his 30's. He was a warrior through and through, and never lost his wit and humor even as he gracefully crossed the 110-year-old mark.

At the age of 112, Lawrence Brooks has been celebrated since 2014 as America's oldest living WWII vet. In 2014, the National WWII Museum began celebrating his birthday every year with wholesome birthday parties, he was 105 when that wonderful tradition began.

He was drafted into the US Army at the age of 31, where he spent the war in the African American 91st Engineer Battalion. He was stationed in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines. During his time, his duties included cleaning and cooking for three of the battalion’s white officers. While serving, Brooks obtained the rank of Private 1st Class.

According to the National WWII Museum, Brooks had a few close calls while serving. They write, "On one flight to pick up supplies between Australia and New Guinea, an engine failed on Brooks’ plane while flying over the ocean. The soldiers had to throw cargo out of the plane to compensate for the loss of power. When asked by another soldier why he was standing near the cockpit, Private Brooks replied that the pilots were the only ones with parachutes, and if he saw them running by he was going to hang on as they went out the door."

Brooks is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.

What a life and what a hero. I'm glad he lived long enough to feel the appreciation he always deserved.

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