Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise of Forrest Gump fame took to social media on Wednesday to pay tribute to the oldest World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks, who died this morning at the age of 112.
Sinise Honors ‘An American Hero’
“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,” Sinise tweeted alongside a photo of himself and 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
“He certainly had an incredible long life,” he added. “God bless you sir. An honor to know you. Rest In Peace.”
Sinise is one of the few Hollywood stars who goes above and beyond to help veterans through his eponymous charity The Gary Sinise Foundation, so it’s no surprise that he was one of the first to honor Brooks after his passing.
Brooks’ death was confirmed to the Military Times by his daughter, who said that while her father had been back and forth to the New Orelans VA Hospital in recent months, he was still able to enjoy the holidays.
Brooks’ Incredible Life
Brooks was born to sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1909 as one of 15 children. After being drafted in 1940, he served in the Army’s mostly Black 91st Engineer Battalion. They were stationed in New Guinea, Australia, and the Philippines. This unit spent much of its time building an infrastructure.
“We built bridges, roads, and airstrips,” Brooks said in an oral history in which he described his unit. “That was our job.”
After the war, Brooks worked as a forklift operator until he retired in his 70s. His wife died in 2008, and he is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.
Find out more about Brooks’ incredible life in the video below.
Tributes For Brooks Pour In
Stephen J. Watson, president and CEO of the National WWII Museum, described Brooks to NBC News as 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, and returned home to serve his community and church,” Watson said. “His kindness, smile and sense of humor connected him to generations of people who loved and admired him.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards paid tribute to Brooks as well, posting on Twitter, “I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan. I am thankful I had the chance to meet him and learn from his service.”
I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America's oldest World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan. I am thankful I had the chance to meet him and learn from his service. Please join me and @FirstLadyofLA in praying for his family during this time. #lagov pic.twitter.com/arCKqvHa9m
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) January 5, 2022
What Brooks Wanted His Legacy To Be
When asked at the end of 2021 what he would like his legacy to be, Brooks said, “I would like to be remembered as a strong man. A good soldier.”
A true American hero indeed. Rest in peace, Lawrence Brooks.