Sunday 22 September 2019

Oldest US Second World War veteran and ‘Texas legend’ dies aged 112

Richard Overton was at Pearl Harbour just after the Japanese attack in 1941.

Richard Overton has died aged 112 (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Richard Overton has died aged 112 (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

By Paul J Weber, Associated Press

The oldest American Second World War veteran has died aged 112.

Richard Overton, who was also believed to be the oldest living man in the United States, died on Thursday in Texas.

He was in his 30s when he volunteered for the Army and was at Pearl Harbour just after the Japanese attack in 1941.

The veteran once said that one secret to his long life was smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, which he often was found doing on the porch of his Austin home.

Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Mr Overton was hospitalised with pneumonia but was released on Christmas Eve, said Shirley Overton, whose husband was Richard’s cousin and his longtime caretaker.

“With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honoured to have known him,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement on Thursday, calling Mr Overton “an American icon and Texas legend”.

“Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans,” the governor added.

“We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State.”

Mr Overton was born in 1906 near Austin and served in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.

In 2013, former president Barack Obama honoured Mr Overton at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

“He was there at Pearl Harbour, when the battleships were still smoldering,” Mr Obama said of Mr Overton.

“He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.'”

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