Richard Arvin Overton

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Richard Arvin Overton
Overton on Veterans Day 2017
Birth nameRichard Arvin Overton
Born(1906-05-11)May 11, 1906
Bastrop County, Texas, U.S.
Died(2018-12-27)December 27, 2018
(aged 112 years, 230 days)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1940–1945
Rank Technician fifth grade[1]
Unit188th Engineer Aviation Battalion (Colored)
Battles/warsWorld War II
Awards Combat Infantryman Badge
Bronze Star Medal
U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge

Richard Arvin Overton (May 11, 1906 – December 27, 2018) was an American supercentenarian who at the age of 112 years, 230 days was the oldest verified surviving U.S. World War II veteran and oldest man in the United States. He served in the United States Army. In 2013, he was honored by President Barack Obama.[2][3][4][5] He resided in Austin, Texas, from 1945 until his death in 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

Overton was born in Bastrop County, Texas,[6] to Gentry Overton, Sr. and Elizabeth Franklin Overton Waters.[7]

Overton´s great-great-grandfather was American judge and presidential advisor John Overton.[8] Through this ancestor he was a cousin of civil-rights activist Volma Robert Overton and of William R. Dickinson[9]

Military and civilian career[edit]

Overton enlisted in the United States Army on September 3, 1940, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.[10]

He served in the South Pacific from 1940 through 1945, including stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima. He left the U.S. Army in October 1945 as a technician fifth grade.[11]

Overton worked at local furniture stores before taking a position with the Texas Department of the Treasury (now part of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts) in Austin. He was married twice but did not have any children.[12]

Later years[edit]

U.S. President Barack Obama greets Overton in the White House Blue Room, Veterans Day 2013

Overton gained media attention during the 2013 Memorial Day weekend when he told Fox News he would spend his Memorial Day "smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee."[13] Overton had been known to smoke about a dozen cigars a day. On that same Memorial Day, Overton met with Texas Governor Rick Perry. Overton was also invited to the White House where he met with President Barack Obama, and to the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where he was singled out by name for praise by the President.[5][14][15]

During an NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies on March 24, 2017, Overton was honored during a half-time break.[16]

Overton is the subject of a 2016 documentary, Mr. Overton, in which he is interviewed about his daily routine, thoughts on his longevity, and his military service.[17][18] On May 3, 2016, he became the oldest surviving American veteran after the death of Frank Levingston.[19][20][21]

On May 11, 2016, Overton became a supercentenarian.[6] Following the death of Clarence Matthews (born May 1, 1906) on July 22, 2017, Overton became the oldest living American man.[22] Overton was hospitalized for pneumonia in December 2018. He was placed in a rehabilitation center, where he died on December 27, 2018, aged 112 years and 230 days.[23]

Military awards[edit]

Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges.
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
1st Row Bronze Star Medal Army Good Conduct Medal American Defense Service Medal
2nd Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal
Richard Overton with Steve Adler
Richard Overton with Austin Mayor Steve Adler before the Veteran's Day Parade.
Badge Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge
Unit award Army Meritorious Unit Commendation

Personal life[edit]

Overton lived in Austin, Texas. On December 11, 2014, Austin Community College recognized Overton with an honorary associate degree, the college's highest distinction.[24] He was a Member of the Church of Christ and attended church regularly.[25]

On July 1, 2018, it was reported that Overton became a victim of identity theft. A suspect of unknown origin opened a fake banking account with Overton's Social Security number, accessed his personal checking account, and used the money to gather savings bonds. Overton also had a GoFundMe account which raised over $420,000 for his in-home care.[26] On July 5, 2018, Overton's family announced that Bank of America had restored the funds to his account.[27]

After his death, a portion of Airport Boulevard in Austin was named in his honor.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "109-Year-Old Veteran and His Secrets to Life Will Make You Smile - Short Film Showcase". YouTube. April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  2. ^ Royce-Bartlett, Lindy (November 11, 2013). "Oldest World War II vet Richard Overton, 107, honored by President Obama". CNN. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  3. ^ Thuman, Scott (November 11, 2013). "Richard Overton honored by President Obama on Veterans Day". WJLA-TV. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  4. ^ Toppo, Greg (November 10, 2013). "Oldest living WWII vet to meet with Obama". USA Today. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Oldest known WWII veteran honored at Arlington ceremony". Fox News. November 11, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Nation's oldest living WWII Combat Veteran Richard Overton turning 110". Fox 7 Austin. May 11, 2016. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  7. ^ Editors (April 10, 2019). "Richard Overton biography". Archived from the original on April 16, 2019.
  8. ^ Bridges, Ken (January 9, 2019). "Remembering remarkable life of Richard Overton". Wichita Falls Times-Record-News Home Page. Retrieved December 7, 2023.
  9. ^ "Meet America's oldest living vet. He smokes cigars, does yard work, drives and drinks whiskey. And he's 108". Washington Post.
  10. ^ National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, U.S.: Operations Inc:::2005. Original data: Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S. transcription of record here; accessed September 1, 2015.(subscription required)
  11. ^ Arvine, Richard Overton (2013). "Richard Arvine Overton Collection". Veterans History Project. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  12. ^ Meyer, Brendan (May 11, 2018). "America's oldest living WWII veteran turns 112, fueled by cigars, Dr Pepper and coffee". Stars and Stripes. Archived from the original on March 14, 2021. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Miller, Joshua Rhett (May 26, 2013). "America's oldest veteran to spend quiet Memorial Day at Texas home". Fox News. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  14. ^ Jackson, David (November 11, 2013). "Obama: 'We will never forget' veterans". USA Today. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "President Barack Obama greets Richard Overton",, November 11, 2013 – via National Archives
  16. ^ Carbaugh, Dane (March 24, 2017). "Spurs honor Richard Overton, the oldest living U.S. veteran at Military Appreciation Night". ProBasketballTalk. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  17. ^ "Mr. Overton – GI Film Festival | Reel Stories! Real Heroes!". Archived from the original on December 28, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "LA Shorts Fest". Archived from the original on December 28, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  19. ^ Villalpando, Roberto (May 5, 2016). "The man who was America's oldest World War II veteran has died". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Media Group. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  20. ^ Johnson, Dionne (May 4, 2016). "Frank Levingston, Nation's Oldest WWII Veteran, Dies at 110". KLFY. Nexstar Broadcasting. Retrieved February 11, 2018. Richard Arvine Overton is now the oldest surviving American World War II veteran.
  21. ^ Chuck, Elizabeth (May 2016). "America's Oldest Veteran Richard Overton Celebrates 110th Birthday". NBC News. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  22. ^ "Oakland native who was oldest man in the United States dies". July 24, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  23. ^ Claiborne, Casey (December 27, 2018). "Nation's oldest living veteran Richard Overton dies in Austin at age 112". KTBC. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  24. ^ "ACC awards honorary degree to oldest WWII veteran, Richard Overton, at fall commencement". ACC Newsroom. Austin Community College. December 9, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  25. ^ "Oldest Living World War II Veteran Richard Overton to Turn 109". ABC News. May 6, 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  26. ^ "Thieves drain bank account of oldest living U.S. veteran, family says". CBS News. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  27. ^ "Bank Restores Funds Stolen from Oldest Living Veteran's Account". July 5, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  28. ^ "Stretch of Airport Boulevard is now Richard Overton Memorial Highway". May 31, 2019.

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