America’s Oldest Veteran, African-American Richard Overton, Celebrates 109th Birthday

© AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais World War II veteran Richard Overton stands up for the presentation of the colors during Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
© AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
World War II veteran Richard Overton stands up for the presentation of the colors during Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

America’s oldest veteran is ringing in the big 109 with burgers, cigars, milkshakes and whiskey.

Richard Overton, a World War II veteran from Austin, will turn 109 on May 11. He started celebrating early on Sunday, with a backyard bash, KVUE reported.

Austin police officers, the mayor and Overton’s family gathered at his home for milkshakes, fries and burgers from Mighty Fine Burgers, which lent its name to the party’s theme: “Mighty Fine at 109.”

Overton enjoyed a vanilla shake and cigar — one of at least 12 Tampa Sweets he smokes a day — and told the Wall Street Journal that he loved the party.

I like the attention,” he admitted. “I never thought I would be that important.”

He chalks up his longevity to whiskey, but admitted that he drinks only occasionally now. Sometimes, he adds a bit to his morning coffee or sips a spiked glass of 7 Up before bed.

Overton served in the Pacific Theater between 1942 and 1945 as a member of the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.

He moved back to Texas after the war, and married several times, but never had any children. He worked at an Austin furniture store in the 80s and in the mailroom for the governor in the 90s.

Today, at nearly 109, he still tends to his yard and is known to drive his widowed neighbors to church on Sundays, the Washington Post reported.

He has gathered some high-profile fans: He met President Obama in 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery, the same year then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry stopped by his house to give him a bottle of whiskey.

While Overton is America’s oldest living veteran, he’s not the oldest person in the world: That honor goes to Michigander Jeralean Talley, who turns 116 later this month.

Overton said he hopes everyone will come out again next year to celebrate his 110thbirthday.

“I just gotta live,” he said of his future plans.

SOURCE: N.Y. Daily News – Meg Wagner

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