Lawrence Brooks: A story of resilience

Lawrence Brooks, the Associated Press reported in an article in Friday’s Williamsport Sun-Gazette, was working in a sawmill when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940.

His first unit, the 91st Engineer General Service Regiment, built bridges, roads and airstrips for allied forces. He then was assigned as a driver for three officers.

His base on Owen Island would come under Japanese fire. He learned to tell the difference in how American, Japanese and German sounded and would dig foxholes when Japanese and German planes approached.

He was aboard a C-47 delivering barbed wire to the front lines when one of the planes engines failed, forcing the servicemen to jettison the cargo.

While he tried personally not to dwell on it, he saw the discrimination he and other Black soldiers faced, similar to the racism his family faced in Louisiana under Jim Crow.

He survived.

After his discharge he entered the civilian workforce as a forklift driver. He had a wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home. A helicopter had to lift him from his daughter’s roof.

He survived still.

As his daughter told the Associated Press, he was “resilient.”

Nearly a week ago, on Wednesday, Lawrence Brooks died at the age of 112 — the oldest veteran of World War II in the U.S.

We need to remember the stories of our veterans — the sacrifices they made, the obstacles they overcame and the courage and, yes, resilience with which they set examples for following generations.

Their stories are important. Their service and their resilience are too admirable for their stories not to be.


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