NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A World War II veteran celebrated a milestone birthday.

Lawrence Brooks was born in 1909.

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Now at 110, he’s believed to be the oldest living American World War II veteran, a feat worthy of pomp, circumstance, and a 5-star serenade at the war’s National Museum.
“I love people,” says Brooks as the credit to his longevity.

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And people love Brooks. Many of them showed up to celebrate, even complete strangers.

From 1941 to 1945, Brooks served overseas with the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion in places like Australia and New Guinea.

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Brooks credits his good health and longevity with long walks and chewing gum, a habit he used to replace cigarettes.