Richard Overton, 108, is thought to be the oldest living veteran in the United States. But he’s as active as ever.
On Tuesday, shortly after he served as grand marshal in Austin’s Veteran’s Day Parade, Overton was relaxing on the porch of his Texas home — the same house he bought when he returned from World War II (he paid $4,000 for the house, Austin Fox affiliate KTBC reported in May).
This year’s parade, Overton told The Post, was “fine, lovely beautiful. The best one I’ve seen yet.”
“It made me feel good. I appreciate everything they’re doing,” Overton said. “I had my name and age on the side of the car, and they couldn’t believe it. I was still walking and talking and riding along and everything.”
Overton used to start his days with some whiskey in his coffee, and he still adds a teaspoon from time-to-time. “It’s just like medicine,” he said. Overton smokes cigars daily, too. “I’m smoking one now,” he said from Austin.
Indeed, Overton hasn’t slowed down much and remains sharp. He still drives his old Ford pickup truck, attends church every Sunday and has been known to help to transport widows to church, according to the Austin American Statesman. And he still does yard work.
Reminder: He is 108 years old.
One. Hundred. And. Eight.
When asked the key to a long life, he said, “You have to ask God about that. He brought me here and he’s taking care of me, and nothing I can do about it.” He added: “I can talk about what he’s doing for me.”
Overton, born in 1906 in Texas, served in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1945 as part of the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.
“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.”
Upon returning from the war, he worked at an Austin furniture store. He told the Statesman that he first retired at age 65, but that he kept being asked to come back and was hired four more times. “I got near 100 and finally quit,” he said. “They still wanted me back.”
Last year, he traveled to Washington and got to meet President Obama, who spoke about him at an event at Arlington National Cemetery.
“When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race,” Obama said in 2013. “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.”
Overton told CNN last year: “I didn’t think there [was] gonna ever be a black president. But it finally did happen.”
The visit with Obama wasn’t Overton’s first trip to D.C.; in May 2013, he came to the nation’s capital with Honor Flight Austin, a group that brings Texas veterans to Washington. Part of that trip included a stop at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, where Richard wept.
“And the crowd that gathered around him wept, too,” Obama said last year, “to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day — to the progress of a nation — he thought might never come.’”
Overton is the cousin of the late Austin civil rights leader Volma Overton, who also served in World War II as a Marine and went on to become the longtime president of the Austin NAACP.
Coffey visited Washington over the summer, when Vice President Biden flirted with her.
[This post has been updated.]