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Oldest living World War II veteran gets a trip to DC just before his 112th birthday

In November 2013, Richard Overton is recognized during a Veteran's Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Overton, the oldest living World War II veteran, recently took a private tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (2013 file photo/Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The oldest living World War II veteran was flown to Washington, D.C., and got a private tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Richard Overton is just a few weeks away from his 112th birthday. He credits his longevity to cigars and whiskey. In addition to being the oldest living World War II veteran, he is thought to be the oldest man in America and the third oldest in the world.

Overton is only 10 months younger than the oldest man in the world, Japan’s Masazo Nonaka, and five years younger than the oldest person in the world, 117-year-old Violet Brown of Jamaica.

Overton served in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

When Overton was growing up, he remembers his grandfather telling him stories of what life was like as a slave in Tennessee. His grandfather moved to Texas after he was freed.

Overton had mentioned a week ago that he very much wanted to see the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. By the next day, fans of his had organized a private tour of the museum for him. While he was on the tour, former Secretary of State Colin Powell called him to wish him well.

This was not Overton’s first visit to D.C. He had been to the White House more than once before and even met former President Barack Obama, whom he referred to as “my friend.”

Overton still lives in a house he built in 1945 in Austin, Texas. His cousin Volma Overton said that moving him into an assisted-living facility would “kill him.” Overton’s wife died in the 1980s.

In February 2017, National Geographic published a 12-minute video on Overton. At the time, he was still driving his own truck and had just renewed his driver’s license. During that video, Overton talked about what he called “the Overton diet.”

“This morning I drank about that much whiskey,” he said. “I love milk, and fish, corn, and soup. I love soup. A lot of people don’t like soup.” He also said that he eats ice cream “every night. It makes me happy.”

Overton also talked about the importance of his spriritual life.

“Church is a wonderful place,” he said. “It keeps me going. Makes me feel good. I think that helps me push myself along, going to church.”

One last thing…
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