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Richard Overton, America’s Oldest Veteran, Passes Away at 112

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Richard Overton, a renowned resident of Austin, has passed away at the age of 112. He was America’s oldest man and the oldest World War II veteran. His death was confirmed on the evening of Thursday, December 27, as a result of complications from pneumonia.

Over the years, Overton had earned a place in the hearts of his neighbors and community. He lived a storied life, although to see the simple ways in which he enjoyed it, you’d never know his background. In 1942, he volunteered for the U.S. Army, serving with the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion. It was an all-black unit, and Overton did much of his duty on a number of islands in the South Pacific. As a result, he was present at some of the most infamous dates of the war. Honoring Overton at Arlington National Cemetery five years ago, during a Veterans Day ceremony, President Barack Obama said, “He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said. ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.'” Following the war, Overton returned to the Texas Hill Country, working until retirement, after which he was known to spend sometimes up to 10 hours on his front porch, which many referred to as his “stage.”

Richard Overton, America's Oldest Veteran, Passes Away at 112

Photo: Facebook/Richard Overton

It was the personality of Richard Overton that became his hallmark. The street on which he resided in the city of Austin was renamed in his honor some time ago. His neighbors on Richard Overton Avenue loved seeing him and hearing his quick wit. Having met celebrities, politicians, and athletes, he was undoubtedly asked the secret to his longevity. His response was that God and cigars were integral to it all. In a prior interview with CNN, he explained that he didn’t take medicine, and he did enjoy his vices, noting: “I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight. I smoke my cigars, blow the smoke out; I don’t swallow it.”

Richard Overton, America's Oldest Veteran, Passes Away at 112
Photo: Facebook/Richard Overton

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