AUSTIN – Richard Overton, believed to be the oldest living United States veteran at 107, accepted a box of cigars and a standing ovation Thursday with a humble demeanor and a beaming smile. More than 100 people packed a conference room at the Stephen F. Austin building in downtown Austin to attend a pre-Veterans Day ceremony in Austin honoring Overton and Ken Wallingford, who spent 10 months in a tiger cage as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “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,” said Overton, who is planning a visit with President Barack Obama next week in Washington, D.C. Ex-state employee Overton, identified by the General Land Office as the nation’s oldest veteran, was born in Bastrop County. He served in the Army during World War II in the South Pacific and now lives in Austin. He sold furniture in Austin after the war and later worked for the state Treasurer’s Office. He drives and walks without a cane. During a television interview in March, he told a reporter that he doesn’t take medicine, smokes cigars every day and takes whiskey in his morning coffee. The key to living to his age, he said, is simply “staying out of trouble.”
Drinks whiskey, smokes cigars, is 107 years old.