Richard Overton -- the man believed to be the oldest living United States military veteran at the age of 107 -- received a box of cigars and a standing ovation at a pre-Veterans Day ceremony in Austin, Texas, on Thursday. His secret to longevity? Whiskey, cigars and “staying out of trouble.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Overton, born on May 11, 1906, in Bastrop County, Texas, is a World War II Army veteran who fought in the South Pacific. After the war, he moved to Austin, sold furniture and worked for the state treasurer’s office. He still drives a car and walks without a cane.
On Sunday morning, Overton will head to the White House to celebrate Veterans Day with President Barack Obama. "The president wants me to come with him," Overton told KEYE-TV. "I'm surprised he called me."
As KEYE-TV reports, Overton will have breakfast with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday for Veterans Day, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
It’s not Overton’s first visit to the nation’s capital. As Fox News points out, Overton visited the World War II Memorial in May to commemorate his service in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. “I was really honored when I got there,” Overton said. “There were so many people, it was up in the thousands. And we danced and we jumped … them people tickled me to death. It made me happy as can be.”
“I was very, very happy,” Overton added. “At my age and my strength, I’m able to stand up and do anything. My mind is good, so I’m able to do what I want.”
According to Fox News, Overton takes aspirin daily. He also smokes up to 12 cigars a day and has whiskey with his morning coffee. “I may drink a little in the evening too with some soda water, but that’s it,” he said. “Whiskey’s a good medicine. It keeps your muscles tender.”
Even at the age of 107, Overton maintains an active lifestyle. “I got good health,” he said. “I also stay busy around the yards, I trim trees, help with the horses. The driveways get dirty, so I clean them. I do something to keep myself moving. I don’t watch television.”
Overton is a source of inspiration to those around him. "It's not every day you get to meet a 107-year-old World War II veteran that still drives and smokes 12 cigars a day and has a 90-year-old girlfriend and drives to church and cuts his grass and takes a baby aspirin a day," Allen Bergeron, a veteran's consultant for the city of Austin, told KEYE-TV.
To those wondering what Overton’s secret is, it’s very simple. "Stay out of trouble, I guess, tend to your own business, don't somebody gonna kill you now, they shootin' at everybody now, every night, they shootin' somebody, so you gotta be careful," he said.
As Fox News notes, it’s impossible to verify with absolute certainty that Overton is indeed the oldest living veteran in the United States, as only 9 million of the nation’s 22 million veterans are registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.