By Debbie Gregory.
At 107 years old, Richard Overton is believed to be the country’s oldest living Veteran. Overton served in the Pacific during World War II as a member of the Army’s 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion. This past week, Mr. Overton went to Washington, D.C. to be honored on Veterans Day for his service, as well as for his longevity.
Richard Overton was born on May 11, 1906 in Bastrop County, Texas. In 1942, he volunteered for military service after the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Overton is a Veteran of Iwo Jima, and also spent time in Hawaii, Guam and Palau. He left the Army in October, 1945, after the unconditional surrender by the Japanese.
After the war, Overton returned to Texas, where he briefly sold furniture, before going to work in the state’s Treasurer’s Office.
Overton currently lives in East Austin, in a house that he built himself. He has been a bit of a celebrity in the Veteran Community, heralded as being the oldest Vet in the nation. Overton laughs and jokes in front of the cameras, his wit sharp as ever. He boasts that at 107, he still drives a car and doesn’t take any medications… almost. Overton revealed that his secret to living so long is a moderate daily dose of whiskey and cigars. He admits to a spoonful of whiskey in his morning coffee, and puffing (but not inhaling) cigars, as a part of his regular regiment. But he admits that he mostly credits his longevity to keeping out of trouble.
Overton made it through the battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most horrific battles of all time, and then survived the rest of the war. It would be safe to assume that he had seen enough trouble in his life time to be able to recognize it, and be allowed to stay away from it. Perhaps tomorrow, with your morning cup of coffee, you’ll tip your mug and toast Richard Overton and his great ability to endure as a soldier, as a person, and as an inspiration. Here’s to you, Mr. Overton.