History and Historiography

Oldest US Veteran of WWII, Lawrence N. Brooks, Dies at 112

By Leah Willingham and Rebecca Santana, Associated Press |

NEW ORLEANS — Lawrence N. Brooks, the oldest World War II veteran in the U.S. — and believed to be the oldest man in the country — died on Wednesday at the age of 112.

His death was announced by the National WWII Museum and confirmed by his daughter.

Most African Americans serving in the segregated U.S. armed forces at the beginning of World War II were assigned to noncombat units and relegated to service duties, such as supply, maintenance and transportation, said Col. Pete Crean, vice president of education and access at the museum in New Orleans.

“The reason for that was outright racism — there’s no other way to characterize it,” Crean said.

But Brooks, born on Sept. 12, 1909, was known for his good-natured sense of humor, positivity and kindness. When asked for his secret to a long life, he often said, “serving God and being nice to people.”

“I don’t have no hard feelings toward nobody,” he said during a 2014 oral history interview with the museum. “I just want everything to be lovely, to come out right. I want people to have fun and enjoy themselves — be happy and not sad.”

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