America mourns its oldest World War II veteran, 112-year-old Richard Overton

Nduta Waweru December 28, 2018

Robert Arvin Overton, America’s oldest World War II veteran died on Thursday at a rehab facility in Austin, Texas. He was 112.

Overton, who was also believed to be the oldest living man in America, was born on May 11, 1906. He joined the Army in his 30s and was part of the team at Pearl Harbour after the Japanese attack in 1941. After the war, he went on to work at furniture stores before joining the Texas Department of Treasury.

The veteran made headlines in 2013 for his famous comments that he drinks whiskey and smokes his cigars. 

“I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight,” he said when he was 107. “I smoke my cigars, blow the smoke out; I don’t swallow it.”

Overton was invited at the White House by President Barack Obama, who heaped praises on him.

President Barack Obama greets Richard Overton, with Earlene Love-Karo, in the Blue Room of the White House, Nov. 11, 2013. Photo: Wiki CC

“Today, Richard still lives in the house he built all those years ago, rakes his own lawn and every Sunday, he hops in his 1971 Ford truck and drives one of nice ladies in his neighbourhood to church,” President Obama said in 2013. “So, this is the life of one American veteran living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free.”

Overton battled pneumonia in 2015, which forced him to spend days in hospital. The disease would see him back in hospital in 2018 but he recovered and was put in a rehabilitation home, where he passed away on Thursday, December 27, 2018. 

Tributes to Overton has started pouring in, with Texas governor Greg Abbott calling him “an American icon and a Texas legend.” 

“With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honoured 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,” he said.

Here’s the documentary of Overton’s life.


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