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America’s Oldest Living World War II Veteran Turns 109 – “I’m the Only One That Can Tell the Tale Now”

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Published on: May 12, 2015

My, how times flies. It was two years ago that I wrote an article on America’s oldest living World War II veteran, Richard Overton. At that time, he had turned 107. On Monday, Overton turned 109… and yes, he still smokes twelve cigars a day, attends church, works his garden and enjoys his life in the same house he built when he came home from the war.

Overton was born on May 11, 1906. He has been married twice, but never fathered any children.

Overton says at his age that he is able to stand up and do anything. His mind is also sharp and he is able to do whatever he wants to do. He says he is in good health and doesn’t take any prescription medicines. Like my veteran father, he stays busy in his yard, trimming trees, helping with horses and cleaning driveways. He likes to keep moving and doesn’t watch television.

He credits his long life to a daily dose of aspirin and a relatively stress-free life he has enjoyed since leaving the service in October 1945. Overton served from 1942-45 in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima and obtained the rank of sergeant. All of those who served with him has passed on, many of them in the service of the US military.

“I’m the only one that can tell the tale now,” he said. “All the other boys are gone.”

As a special celebration, Texas Governor Rick Abbot invited Overton to the governor’s mansion for a birthday party.

My San Antonio reports:

Gov. Greg Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, sang “Happy Birthday” Monday to Overton, joined by his friends Earline Love and Allen Bergeron in the mansion conservatory.

Abbott pointed out that each candle on Overton’s cake “stands for about 38 years or so.”

But after Overton quickly blew them out, Abbott quipped, “In hindsight, we could have put 109 candles on that.”

Overton was presented with gifts including a throw emblazoned with the word “Texas;” a Texas flag that was flown over the Capitol when Abbott was sworn in; and four glasses – “for your whiskey,” piped up one voice.

Not only did he spend some time at the governor’s mansion, but Overton also had a shindig with Mayor Steve Adler, officials from the police department and lots of family and friends.

“You are just one of the treasures that we have in this city,” Adler told Overton.

“I’m really surprised, I really didn’t know there was going to be this many people. I knew it was going to be somebody, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this and I really enjoyed it,” Overton said.

He’s already expecting a big turnout next year, should the Lord will it, for the celebration of his 110th birthday.

Overton used to start his day off with whiskey-stiffened coffee, but says he’s abandoned that because he gets a “little stiff” at times. Still, he smokes about 12 Tampa Sweet cigars a day. “I’ve been smoking cigars since I was 18 years old,” he told to ABC. “I have over $100 worth of cigars now.”

Mr. Overton also apparently loves his guns.

“I got good health and I don’t take any medicine,” he told in 2013. “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 moving. I don’t watch television.”

His neighbors think he is the greatest too. They brag that he is “cool” and that he tells the best stories.

Though he is 109, he is still the youngest known combat veteran. Emma Didlake is the oldest known veteran. She turned 110 on March 13.

I’m hoping he’s around for another year and we’ll be able to record his 110th birthday on this site.

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