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America’s oldest veteran dead at the age of 112

Junie Sihlangu
Dec 28, 2018
10:50 A.M.

Richard Overton’s family was able to spend one last Christmas with him before he passed away two days later. He was known as the nation’s oldest veteran.

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Overton died in a rehabilitation facility in Austin, Texas at the age of 112 years.

Richard Overton’s family revealed that the veteran was admitted to the hospital last week with pneumonia. He passed away this week on Thursday.

For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. In 1906, Overton was born near Bastrop County, just outside Austin, Texas.

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He served in the army for three years during World War II. Overton volunteered for the Army in his 30s and was also at Pearl Harbor just after the Japanese’s surprise attack in 1941.

The veteran served in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion from 1942 to 1945. Throughout those years he had stops in Angaur, Palau; Peleliu, Micronesia; and Iwo Jima, Japan.

He spent the majority of his life in Austin on the front porch of his home which he built in East Austin in 1945. The veteran credited God, cigars, and whiskey for his longevity.

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He once said, “I been smoking cigars from when I was 18 years old, I’m still a smoking ‘em. 12 a day.” Last summer, Overton’s friend Steve Wiener shared a bit about him.

He described him as “a gift to Austin that keeps giving. He’s a crackerjack. When people sense his humor and playfulness, it just lightens everyone’s step.”

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Wiener also reiterated that Overton’s favorite pastime was smoking his 12 daily cigars on his front porch, which his friends dubbed his “stage.” Being the oldest living veteran allowed him to meet some well-known people.

On Memorial Day in 2013, the veteran met former Gov. Rick Perry. On Veterans Day, in the same year, former President Barack Obama honored Overton in front of thousands in Washington.

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At the time, Obama said:

"His service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high.”

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In late 2016, the veteran started needed fulltime medical care. However, his family didn’t want to take to a nursing home so they started a GoFundMe account for him to be able to stay in his house.

The account reached over $450,000, allowing him to stay in his home. When he turned 111, the Austin City Council gave the street he lived for more than 70 years a new name, Richard Overton Avenue.

This year also took the life of the nation's oldest survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ray Chavez,106, passed away peacefully in his sleep in November.

Chavez got to meet President Donald Trump.

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