America’s oldest World War II veteran, Lawrence Brooks, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 112. His daughter Vanessa confirmed the news to the Military Times. Upon his passing, actor and outspoken veteran advocate Gary Sinise honored Brooks as “an American hero.”
Brooks had been physically active and mentally well-attuned even into his hundreds, evidenced by photo ops and video events he did when he was as old as 106. Sinise has memories of joining him at the National WWII Museum and honored his life after hearing news of his passing.
Gary Sinise pays tribute to Lawrence Brooks
An American hero passed away this morning. Lawrence Brooks, the oldest living WWII vet at 112 years old.
Here we are at National WWII Museum in New Orleans when he was 106 years old. He certainly had an incredible long life.
God bless you sir. An honor to know you.
Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/8mfbGuNmxG
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) January 5, 2022
The same day Brooks was confirmed to have died, Sinise took to social media to share the somber news and honor the veteran’s long, impactful life. “An American hero passed away this morning,” his morning post announced. “Lawrence Brooks, the oldest living WWII vet at 112 years old.”
The accompanying photo shows Sinise standing beside Brooks and the post’s caption further informs, “Here we are at National WWII Museum in New Orleans when he was 106 years old. He certainly had an incredible long life. God bless you sir. An honor to know you. Rest In Peace.”
Lawrence Brooks and Gary Sinise are champions in their fields
Lawrence Brooks, the oldest known living 🇺🇸 WW2 veteran, has died at 112. He served much of his time in Australia, part of the largely African American 91st Engineer Battalion, and said “They were nice people, the Australians. They were wonderful.”
(📷: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) pic.twitter.com/fNTYYHyrub
— US Consulate Perth (@uscongenperth) January 6, 2022
Lawrence Brooks was born on September 12, 1909, and grew up in Norwood, Louisiana with fourteen siblings. He was drafted into the army in 1940 when he was 31. At the time, he was required only a year of mandatory service but he rejoined after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He was a part of the 91st Engineer Battalion and would reach the rank of Private First Class after serving in the Pacific Theatre. As part of engineering, he oversaw putting together vital infrastructure, including barbed wire protection. Even in the midst of dire circumstances, Brooks found good humor. When the engine of the C-47 he was in blew out, he joked about being prepared to grab from the limited supply of parachutes if need be. As Brooks recalled, “We had a big laugh about that.” Brooks is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.
Vanessa, his daughter and caregiver, said that in recent months, Brooks had been in and out of the New Orleans VA Hospital but had been able to fully enjoy the holidays. Quality of life assurances like this are just some of Sinise’s focuses through the Gary Sinise Foundation and his persistent advocacy for veterans; their fight does not end once they leave the warzone and between 2011 to 2019, Sinise’s foundation has raised over $149 million. He also organized the construction of houses and remodeling of bathrooms for better accessibility. In terms of inspiration, both Sinise and Brooks remain in a league of their own.