Patterico's Pontifications

12/28/2018

Nation’s Oldest War Veteran Has Passed Away

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:27 am



[guest post by Dana]

I should add that Richard Overton, beloved resident of Austin, TX, was not only the oldest living WWII veteran but also the nation’s oldest living man. His amazing life came to a close on Thursday, after a bout of pneumonia:

Austin resident Richard Overton, who was America’s oldest man and oldest war veteran, died Thursday. Overton, who was honored for his military service and beloved for his propensity to enjoy his supercentenarian status with a cigar in one hand and a glass of whiskey in another, was 112 years old.

He died Thursday evening at a rehabilitation facility in Austin, said his cousin Volma Overton Jr. He had been hospitalized with pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center for more than a week before he was admitted into the rehab facility on Christmas Eve.

People paid their respects at his East Austin home Thursday night with few bouquets of flowers and candles. A sign on his door from his 112th birthday celebration read, “Making friends since 1906.”

Overton’s military service began months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This is excerpted from an interview with Overton, when he was a mere 107 years old and getting ready to take an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to view the WWII monument:

Mr. Overton was born (in 1906!) in St. Mary’s in Bastrop County. Married twice and with no children, he worked in Austin furniture stores for many years and became well-known at the Capitol, including a stint handling mail and deliveries for then-Treasurer Ann Richards.

“That was my buddy,” he said of the late Richards. “We were big friends. I knew her when she used to drink.”

Mr. Overton’s World War II stories are typical for the greatest generationers who did so much for us and asked so little for it. He was in the Army. He served in the South Pacific. He landed, under fire, on too many beaches on too many islands for him to recall. The records show he served from September 1942 until October 1945 and made stops in Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Palau, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

“We got in the foxholes, and bullets were coming over our heads,” he said matter of factly of one landing, adding vivid memories of clearing dead bodies from the battlefield.

To make sure Overton would not have to move out of the Austin home that he paid $4,000 for after the war and lived in for more that 70 years, Overton’s family started a GoFundMe campaign in 2016 and received enough in donations that Overton was able to remain in his home with around-the-clock care.

Here is lovely glimpse of the American treasure during his 112th birthday party, via The Statesman:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

12 Responses to “Nation’s Oldest War Veteran Has Passed Away”

  1. Will Rogers:

    We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by.

    Dana (023079)

  2. May we all live so long.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. Sic transit Gloria mundi. It’s good to remember why we refer to “the greatest generation.”

    John B Boddie (73e5f3)

  4. This guy, while almost as old, still works 40 hour weeks as a barber, a profession he began 96 years ago:

    http://www.cleveland19.com/2018/12/26/year-old-ny-man-is-oldest-working-barber-world/

    rpg (d9198f)

  5. Five years older than my grandmother, who passed away about 20 years ago (at a very advanced age)…

    Bilbo Baggins needed a magic ring to live past eleventy-one years. Mr. Overton apparently had a magic cigar.

    I wonder what he did in the Army to see so much enemy fire? Blacks were generally not allowed in combat units due to segregation. They mention “clearing bodies”, so maybe that was it.

    Dave (1bb933)

  6. Glad to see he is treated decently in death unlike the treatment of black soldiers during world war 2. watch any post war movie about black soldiers in world war 2 to see how they were treated (bells of st anna is a good one) the most glaring example was doris miller watch any movie about the attack on pearl harbor like tora tora tora. when the navy gave out medals for pearl harbor they gave the navy cross to an unnamed black sailor because the racists in the navy didn’t want to give him the congressional medal of honor which he richly deserved so they could say black men were cowards and wouldn’t make good soldiers and sailors. the black press had to force the navy to release the navy cross winner’s name so they could name a black segregated school after him.

    lany (96ebbf)

  7. Dorie Miller’s actions at Pearl Harbor were certainly heroic and deserving of recognition (which he received).

    Whether they merited receipt of the Medal of Honor is less clear. Naturally, in that era, his race made fair treatment unlikely, if not impossible.

    Dave (1bb933)

  8. Even the BBC made note of this. Such a sweep of change and time to experience; outliving the American century as well. One hopes his passing and memory may be decorated with more than just the misery of war stories.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  9. Did you see this article?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2018/12/28/how-did-americas-oldest-wwii-veteran-live-cigars-whiskey-ice-cream-every-day/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1bada2cb01db

    It makes sense to me. Alcohol lowers cholesterol dramatically, smokers don’t get Parkinson’s, and ice cream is something to live for (although I prefer chocolate).

    nk (dbc370)

  10. I figured he was that guy you told us about who made a point of never arguing with idiots.

    (nk’s cheeky comeback: “You’re right again, Dave”)

    Dave (1bb933)

  11. Alcohol and Ice Cream would make for a s-bomb everyday, so no colon issues either, and Austin with its heat but hills and lakes is pretty darn close to a Mediterrean climate (i.e less humid then Houston and less exposed heat than the Metroplex).

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  12. As an enlisted man, he probably learned that in the Army, when carrying out his officers’ orders, Dave.

    nk (dbc370)

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