Nation’s oldest known veterans, both 107, meet for first time

They are both African Americans, World War II veterans, Texas natives and, oh yes, 107 years old. And for the last six decades, they lived about 200 miles away from each other but had never met -- until now.

The nation’s oldest known veterans, Richard Overton of Austin, and Elmer Hill of Henderson, spent Friday bonding over barbecue ribs and trading stories about their service.

Their meet-up, held in Austin, was “history in the making,” Karen Lucas, a vice president with Emeritus Senior Living, which arranged the get-together, told the Los Angeles Times.

It took two weeks to plan and coordinate the event, she said, which was received with enthusiasm by both Hill and Overton.

“I sure was excited,” Hill told The Times. “I wasn’t expecting to see that many people there to see me.”


Hill said he enjoyed meeting Overton, “someone as old as me,” he joked.

But the best part was seeing all the people to honor him and Overton.

“I never thought I would live to see something like that,” he said.

Overton, who was honored by President Obama this past Veterans Day, said he was also excited to meet Hill because he had heard so many things about him.

“And he’s just a few months younger than me,” Overton said.

He described the event as lively, just like his visit to see the president in Washington.

“It truly was a happy day,” he said. “It just made me feel good.”

Though the two were supposed to meet last Saturday, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Lucas said an ice storm in the area pushed back plans.

Still, about 100 people gathered at the Emeritus at Parmer Woods to join the two veterans for lunch at 11:30 a.m., said Brian Haddock, executive director of the community. Many people waited in line to shake the old veterans’ hands.

“It was very heartwarming to see several of our residents getting there early waiting to make sure they could meet these gentleman,” he said.

In a reception that followed lunch at 1 p.m., Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell also joined the veterans and issued a proclamation thanking them for their service.

Hill’s daughter, Audrey, and her brother, accompanied their father on the drive from Henderson to Austin.

“On the way there was a lot of anticipation in the car, not knowing what was about to transpire,” Audrey told the Times. “But it has been a most phenomenal experience and it’s far exceeded we could have ever expected…the honor couldn’t have been given to anyone more humble than our dad.”


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