Family, veterans, and current military service members joined Lawrence Brooks at the museum, where the celebrated with cupcakes and a musical performance by the Victory Belles trio.
Born in 1909, Brooks served as a support worker in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion, a majority African-American unit stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war. He reached the rank of private first class.
He was the servant to thee white officers in the battalion, the museum said in a press release.
The supercentenarian is a father to five children and five step-children.
He had an exhilarating brush with death
To lighten the plane, those aboard threw much of the cargo into the ocean. Brooks threw the boxes out of the plane like his life depended on it: there were only enough parachutes on the plane for the pilot and the co-pilot.
Brooks said he joked to the aircraft’s pilot: “If he’s going to jump, I’m going to grab him.”
Thankfully, he didn’t have to resort to drastic measures.
“It was a scary moment,” he said. “But we made it.”
In a statement, National World War II Museum CEO Stephen Watson said that Brooks’ life and service was filled with the kinds of “stories of bravery and determination” that the museum exists to celebrate.