Honoring Richard Overton, America’s Oldest World War II Veteran
On December 28, 2018, America’s Oldest World War II Veteran passed away after a battle with pneumonia. Richard was 112.
Born on May 11, 1906, in Bastrop County, Texas, he joined the army in 1940 as a member of the 188th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He would arrive at Pearl Harbor mere weeks after the Japenese attack on America. Richard would spend his remaining time in the army in various areas of the South Pacific. He was stationed in Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima. He left the army in 1945 and returned home to Austin, Texas.
Back in Austin, Richard built the house he would remain in for the rest of his life. He worked at local furniture stores and eventually became a courier for the Texas Department of the Treasury at the Texas State Capitol. He would serve four Texas governors before he retired. He loved to keep busy, spending time with family and friends.
In 2013, Richard was recognized nationally as one of the oldest living World War II Veterans. He was invited to Washington, D.C. by President Barack Obama. There, he visited the White House and participate in a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. He would always look back on that experience with great pride. In May of 2018, Richard celebrated his 112th birthday and his community celebrated with him. Austin Mayor Steve Adler has declared the day Richard Overton Day and the city also changed the name of his street, Hamilton Avenue, to Richard Overton Avenue.
In December 2018, Overton was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. He has battled pneumonia multiple times in recent years. He was released from the hospital on December 24th, but would, unfortunately, pass away 3 days later.
Austin Talley, OSD Cheif Development Officer said, “As a fellow Veteran, I was greatly saddened to hear of Richard’s passing. Numerous members of the OSD Austin community, including myself, have had the pleasure of spending time him. He truly was a great man”
Richard will be remembered for his laughter, selfless service, and big heart. He was beloved in the Austin community and across the country. May we all aspire to live a life as full as his.