America's Oldest Vet, Richard Overton, Active as Ever

America's Oldest Vet, Richard Overton, Active as Ever

The 108-year-old smokes cigars daily and runs errands for his local church, among other things.

Published November 12, 2014

How does the oldest known living veteran in the United States spend his days?

Adding a splash of whiskey to his morning coffee, smoking cigars, running errands for a local church and doing yard work — an impressive set of activities for a 108-year-old.

Despite his age, Richard Overton remains as active as ever. But he refuses to take credit for his long life span.

“I ain’t got nothing to do with that. No, that’s God’s work,” he told KTBC. "Yeah, but I think I’m gonna make it. I done made it this far. I’m gonna still make it on further.”

The U.S. Army veteran was born in 1906 in Texas. As part of the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion in the Pacific Theater of World War II from 1942 to 1945, Overton reportedly dug through foxholes and fought Japanese soldiers.

“War’s nothing to be into,” Overton told USA Today in 2013. “You don’t want to go into the war if you don’t have to. But I had to go. I enjoyed it after I’d went and come back, but I didn’t enjoy it when I was over there. I had to do things I didn’t want to do.”

President Obama honored Overton at a 2013 event at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The president addressed the segregation and racism that Overton and his fellow Black veterans faced upon their return home.

“When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race,” Obama said. “And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high. He carried on and lived his life with honor and dignity.”

Earlier this week, Overton served as grand marshal in Austin’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade.

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(Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via CNP/DPA/Landov)

Written by Patrice Peck

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