Lawrence N. Brooks’ death was announced by the National WWII Museum and confirmed by his daughter. Brooks is the oldest World War II veteran in the U.S. and is believed to be the oldest man in the country.
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.”
Brooks was working at a sawmill when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to the mostly Black 91st Engineer General Service Regiment stationed in Australia.
Later in the war, troop losses virtually forced the military to begin placing more African American troops into combat positions. In 1941, fewer than 4,000 African Americans were serving in the military. By 1945, that number increased to more than 1.2 million.
The 91st, where Brooks served, was an Army unit that built bridges, roads and airstrips for planes. Brooks was assigned as a caretaker to three white officers. His job was to cook, drive and take care of their clothes.
President Biden wished Brooks a happy Veterans Day last year. He thanked Brooks’ daughter for taking such good care of her father.