Oldest US WWII veteran dies aged 112

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Lawrence Brooks, the oldest World War II veteran in the US, has passed away at the age of 112, according to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

He died on Wednesday in his home in New Orleans, Xinhua news agency quoted the Military Times as saying in a report.

Stephen Watson, president and CEO of the museum, called Brooks a man of great faith and “gentle spirit”.

“As the nation’s oldest known living veteran, he proudly served our country during World War II,” Watson said.

“His kindness, smile and sense of humor connected him to generations of people who loved and admired him.”

“I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan,” Louisiana Governor John Edwards offered his condolences on Twitter.

Brooks, a Louisiana native and resident, served in the predominately Black 91st Engineer Battalion during the Second World War.

The Army veteran served at a time of segregation in US history, where white and Black soldiers slept in separate tents and ate separately.

He was born in 1909 in a small village outside of Baton Rouge as one of 15 children. His parents were sharecroppers who moved to Mississippi to find work after the Great Depression, said an NBC News report.

Brooks was initially discharged and returned to New Orleans in November 1941 after his obligatory year of service, but rejoined the US Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor weeks later.

Brooks then served overseas in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines, earning his way to private first class.

At the end of his service, Brooks returned home to the racism of the Jim Crow era and fell back into civilian life as a forklift operator until retiring his 70s.

His wife, Leona, died in 2008.

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

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