The nation’s oldest World War II veteran and the oldest man in the U.S., Richard Overton, died on Thursday, CNN confirmed. He was 112.
Overton, who would have turned 113 in May, was hospitalized with pneumonia, his family confirmed.
He joined the Army in 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor and served with the all-Black unit, the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion.
In 2013, President Barack Obama honored Overton during a Veteran’s Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery saying, “he was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said. ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.’”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Overton, who hailed from Austin, “an American icon and a Texas legend” who “with his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him.”
Adding that, “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,” Abbott continued.
Overton credited his long life to God and smoking cigars. “I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight,” the then 107-year-old told CNN in 2013. “I smoke my cigars, blow the smoke out; I don’t swallow it.”