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Richard Overton is a crucial part of America’s history. He passed away at 112 on Dec. 27, but his legacy lives forever.

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Born in Austin, Texas in 1906, Overton was the grandson of a Tennessee slave who moved to Texas upon emancipation. He volunteered for the Army in 1941 and served with the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, which was all-Black unit on various islands in the Pacific. He was also at Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack in 1941. After the Texas, native left the army, he worked a stint as a furniture salesman then switched gears to become an employee for the state in the Treasurer’s Office.

When Overton was honored by Obama, our 44th President, in 2013 beautifully said, “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.'”

How did Overton live such a long, healthy life? He told CNN in 2013, “I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight,” he said when he was 107. “I smoke my cigars, blow the smoke out; I don’t swallow it.” He also said, “And ice cream. I eat ice cream every night. It makes me happy.”

In 2015, a short doc called Mr. Overton was released on his life, which you can view below:

There is also a street named after him in his hometown of Austin — appropriately titled Richard Overton Avenue.

In a statement on Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said about Overton, “With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him. 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.”

Rest in power, Richard Overton. Thank you for your service.


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