America's Oldest Veteran Dies at Age 112

WWII veteran Richard Overton passed away after a life fully lived. Rest in peace.

Culture Beat · Jan. 3, 2019

America’s oldest living veteran, Richard Overton, died in his home town of Austin, Texas, last Thursday at the age of 112. Overton was a veteran of World War II, where he served in the Pacific Theater with the all-black 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, fighting on the islands of Guam, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. Of the bloody battle on Iwo Jima, Overton later said, “I only got out of there by the grace of God.” We don’t doubt many of his fellow Patriots said the same.

Born in 1906 near Bastrop, Texas, Overton moved to Austin after the war, where he worked in furniture stores and later for the state treasurer’s office. In a 2013 interview — at the spry age of 107 — Overton credited God for his long life, while also admitting to his lifelong whiskey and cigar-smoking habits. “I drink whiskey in my coffee,” he said. “Sometimes I drink it straight. I smoke cigars [and] blow the smoke out; I don’t swallow it.”

In 2017, the city of Austin gave the honorary name “Richard Overton Avenue” to Hamilton Avenue, where he had lived for 72 years. A year earlier, Overton’s neighbor Helen Elliott said, “He considers himself our neighborhood watchdog, and he knows everything that’s going on. I don’t think the neighborhood would be what it is without him. He’s our legend, our icon.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recognized Overton as “an American icon and a Texas legend,” stating, “With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him. Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans. We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State.”

Indeed. Rest in peace.

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