The Jury Talks Back

12/28/2018

Nation’s Oldest War Veteran Has Passed Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:28 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:

–Dana

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