Nation’s oldest World War II veteran, Richard Overton, dies at 112

Oldest WWII veteran Richard Overton dies

(RNN) – The nation’s oldest World War II veteran has died at the age of 112.

Richard Overton died Thursday at a rehab facility in Austin, TX, according to a family member. The longtime Austin resident had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia, but was released on Christmas Eve.

“They had done all they could,” said Shirley Overton, whose husband was Richard Overton’s cousin, according to the Associated Press.

Overton was also believed to be the oldest man in the U.S. He would have been 113 on May 11, 2019, according to CNN.

He volunteered for the Army in his 30s, and was at Pearl Harbor soon after the Japanese bombed it.

Overton served with the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, an all-black unit which served in the Pacific, CNN reports.

Former President Barack Obama honored Overton at a 2013 Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Obama said of Overton: “He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. 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.’”

On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that Overton was “an American icon and a Texas legend.”

“With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him,” Abbott said. “Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans. We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State.”

Overton once credited his long life, in part, to two vices: smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, which he often did on the porch of his Austin home.

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