Oldest U.S. Veteran: Richard Arvine Overton Celebrates 107th Memorial Day In Austin, TX, “Truly One Of Our Unsung Heroes” Says Mayor
By Staff Writer | May 27, 2013 10:50 PM EDT
The oldest U.S. veteran is celebrating his 107th Memorial Day. Richard Arvine Overton, who saw many of his soldiers fall in the line of duty in World War II and see even more of them die in the following decades, is celebrating quietly at his home in Austin, TX.
It’s the same home he built after returning from World War II.
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Overton is believed to be America’s oldest living veteran. He intended to spend his day at his Austin home with a cigar nestled in his right hand, according to FoxNews.com. He usually combines it with a cup of whiskey-stiffened coffee nearby.
In a phone interview with Foxnews.com, he said, “I don’t know, some people might do something for me, but I’ll be glad just to sit down and rest. I’m no young man no more.”
Although it’s extremely difficult to determine if Overton really is the oldest veteran in the country, less than half of the 22 million veterans are registered with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the City of Austin didn’t think twice to give one of their own the credit.
They proclaimed him the oldest veteran in Texas during his birthday at a proclamation in City Hall. Mayor Leffingwell said in a statement,
“I’ve spoken with Mr. Overton on a few different occasions, and admire his spirit for life and his country. He is truly one of our unsung heroes and we are privileged that he calls Austin his home.”
Overton was born on May 11, 1906 in Texas’ Bastrop Country, has gotten used to all the attention he has been receiving lately. He was formally recognized by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell on May 9 and traveled to D.C. on May 17 as part of Honor Flight, a nonprofit group that transports veterans free of charge to memorials dedicated to their service. It was his first time at the nation’s capital
He served in the South Pacific from 1942 to 1945, and was stationed in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima.
“I was really honored when I got there,” Overton recalled of his visit to the World War II Memorial. “There were so many people, it was up in the thousands. And we danced and we jumped … them people tickled me to death. It made me happy as can be.”
The World War II veteran credits his longevity to aspirin, which he takes daily, and the relative stress-free life he’s enjoyed since getting out of service in October 1945. He then worked at local furniture stores before taking a position with the Texas Treasury Department in Austin. Overton has been married twice but never fathered any children and still attends church every Sunday.
He said, “I got good health and I don’t take any medicine. I also stay busy around the yards, I trim trees, help with the horses. The driveways get dirty, so I clean them. I do something to keep myself busy.”
Overton wishes he could spend a few hours this Memorial Day reliving war stories with his fellow veterans, but he’s outlived most – if not all – of them.
“I know I had someone from my platoon until recently, but he passed so now I don’t have anyone that I know,” Overton said. “So I feel lonesome by myself sometimes. I would love to ask some of them some questions, but nobody is here. Everybody’s passed.”
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