Louisiana centenarian celebrates another birthday at WWII Museum

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NEW ORLEANS -- A very special veteran celebrated another milestone today at the National WWII Museum downtown.

Lawrence Brooks turned 108 years old, and once again, one of the country's top-rated museums put on a nice party in his honor, complete with a performance from the famed Victory Belles.

Lawrence Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909 and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II.

He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. His daily routine included cleaning the officers’ sheets, shining their shoes, making sure their uniforms were clean and accomplishing any task these officers asked of him.

Brooks attained the rank of Private 1st Class during the war. He was married to the late Leona B. Brooks, and is the father of five children and five step-children. He is one of the oldest surviving veterans in the region.

Brooks, who worked as a forklift operator until he retired in 1974, was 95 years old when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. He and his wife had to be rescued from their roof by helicopter.

What's the secret to longevity? For Brooks, it's being nice.

"I serve God, and be nice to people, and just keep going," Brooks says. "When you wake up in the morning, get up. Don't lay there. Get up and get going. Keep busy. Do something."

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