Richard Arvine Overton

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Richard Arvine Overton
Mr- Overton 2013-08-07 15-58.jpg
Born (1906-05-11) May 11, 1906 (age 108)
Bastrop County, Texas
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942-1945
Battles/wars South Pacific Theater

This article is about the oldest living veteran of the Second World War. For others with the name Richard Overton, see Richard Overton.

Richard Arvine Overton (born May 11, 1906), is an American centenarian who is currently the oldest verified surviving American World War II veteran.[1] He lives in Austin, Texas.

Early life and military career[edit]

Overton, was born in Bastrop County, Texas. He served in the South Pacific from 1942 through 1945, including stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. He left the U.S. Army in October 1945.

Questions about service history[edit]

Barack Obama shakes hands with Overton at the White House on Veterans Day 2013

Many media sources stated that Overton had been present at the attack on Pearl Harbor, and had participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, such as USA Today, who claimed "Richard Overton survived Pearl Harbor, fought at Iwo Jima and Okinawa..." At the 2013 Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, President Obama said "He (Overton) was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima...",[2][3][4] implying that Overton had seen action in those battles. However, Overton's service record[5] shows that he enlisted on September 24, 1942, 9 months after Pearl Harbor was attacked. USA Today also stated that Overton was "a member of the Army's 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion",[6][7] although no record of such a battalion has been found. A photograph of Overton taken soon after his enlistment shows him wearing the uniform of the Army Air Forces. The Army Air Forces participated in the Battle of Okinawa, but only in the role of bombing the island. During World War Two, all Army Air Corps units were segregated, and none of the African-American units (Tuskegee Airmen) participated in the bombing of Okinawa. The only Army Air Forces units that participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima were 7th Fighter Command fighter groups which provided close air support for the Marines starting on March 3, 1945 and which had no segregated units on Iwo Jima during the battle. However, after the island was "secured" on March 26, 1945, a great number of Air Corp units arrived on Iwo Jima and he may have been part of one of those.

After service[edit]

Overton worked at local furniture stores before taking a position with the Texas Department of the Treasury in Austin. He was married twice and never had children. Overton gained some attention on the Internet during the Memorial Day weekend in 2013 when he told Fox News he would spend his Memorial Day "smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee."[8][9]

On that same Memorial Day, Overton met with Texas Governor Rick Perry.[10] Overton was also invited to the White House where he met with President Obama, and to the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where he was singled out by name for praise by the President.[11][12][13]

He still drives a car and takes widows to Church every sunday.