When Richard Overton was born in Bastrop County in May of 1906, he was born into an entirely different world.Teddy Roosevelt was President, the Wright Brothers had just made the first powered flight, and the Kaiser and the Czar reigned in Germany and Russia.
But most significant for Overton, segregation was still the law of the world he would inhabit, and a practice he would do much to overturn over his long life.
News Radio 1200 WOAI reports Overton, the nation's oldest World War Two veteran and the country's oldest man, died in an Austin care home Thursday night of complications of pneumonia. He was 112 years old.
Richard Arvin Overton enlisted in the U.S. Army at Ft. Sam Houston in 1940 and was assigned to the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion (Colored).
But despite that abhorrent distinction on his unit name, Overton overcame the prejudice of the time, and fought courageously on Guam and Iwo Jima in World War II, receiving numerous citations, including the Combat Infantry Badge.
Overton recalled to the Austin American-Statesman that he had 'landed on more beaches under fire than he could remember.'
Later in life, Overton went into the furniture business, and later worked for future Gov. Ann Richards when she was Texas State Treasurer, an office which has since ben abolished.
In recent years, Overton has been honored by the San Antonio Spurs, by the Austin City Council which declared Richard Overton Day in 2017, and at the White House by President Barack Obama."
Overton once attributed his long life to 'smokign cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee.'
"Richard Overton is an American icon and a Texas legend," Governor Abbott said last night. "With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him."
Then, the governor spoke for all Texans when he said: " 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."
PHOTO: Richard Overton honored at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day 2017. PHOTO: Getty Images