Veterans Day will be bit different for Richard Overton. The man believed to be the nation’s oldest living veteran spends most days smoking cigars and enjoying his whiskey. But today? He’s spending Veterans Day with President Obama.
Overton, 107, enjoys up to 12 cigars a day and likes to enjoy his morning coffee with a little whiskey, a beverage he credits in part with his long, healthy life. The Austin, Texas, resident still drives, walks without a cane and regularly attends church. He said he was taken aback when he got the invitation to the White House.
“The president wants me to come to him!” Overton said. “I’m surprised he called me." On the day’s agenda: Breakfast with the president and vice president, and then attending the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
The day’s events follow a ceremony held last week to recognize Overton for his duty to his country. He was given a box of cigars and a standing ovation last week when the Texas General Land Office and that state’s Veterans Land Board employees honored him for his military service during World War II.
“I’ve gotten so many letters and so many thank-yous and I enjoy every bit of it, but I’m still going to enjoy some more,” Overton told the Houston Chronicle, referring to his visit with the president.
Overton is believed to be both the nation’s oldest living veteran and the nation’s oldest surviving World War II serviceman. He has been interviewed about his service for “Voices of Veterans,” an oral-history program in the Lone Star State.
Born in Texas in 1906, Overton didn’t join the Army until he was in his mid-30s, according to the General Land Office. He served in the South Pacific from 1942 to ’45, including tours in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. Once he left the service, he sold furniture and worked for the state treasurer’s office in Austin.
He has been interviewed over the years and earlier this year told Fox News that he made time each day for smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee. (Be sure to check out the Fox story, as they have side-by-side pictures of the young, handsome Overton in his uniform, and how he looks today. Still handsome!)
Overton credits the whiskey for helping to keep his muscles loose and limber. Among his other health habits:
Overton stays busy with gardening and yard work and skips television, and he believes his cigar habit helps to alleviate stress. He has a girlfriend too. She’s in her 90s.
“Whiskey’s a good medicine,” he told Fox News. “It keeps your muscles tender.”
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