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Oldest WWII Veteran Meets President Obama

Updated: Monday, November 11 2013, 05:35 PM CST

President Barack Obama paid a special tribute today to an Austin man who is the oldest known World War II veteran in his Veterans Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.

107-year-old Richard Overton served in an all-black Army unit at Pearl Harbor, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

President Obama noted that when Overton returned home to Texas following the war, he faced a nation divided by race, and did not always receive the respect he deserved from his service. But the President said Overton “held his head high” and continued to live his life proud in the country he helped to keep free.

Overton received two standing ovations during the remarks. The President also mentioned the work of Honor Flight Austin that brought Overton and others veterans to the World War II monument in Washington, D.C.

He also attended a Veterans Day breakfast earlier Monday at the White House, where he met President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Watch our story before Overton's trip.

The President's complete remarks:

Now, everybody I want you to know a little something about Mr. Overton here.  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."

When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race.  And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home, but this veteran held his head high. 

So, this is the life of one American veteran, living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free.  And earlier this year, the great folks at Honor Flight Austin brought Richard to Washington, D.C. for the first time.  And he and his fellow veterans paid their respects at the World War II Memorial.  And then they visited the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr.  And as Richard said in a wheelchair beneath that great marble statue, he wept. And the crowd that gathered around him wept, too, to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day, to the progress of nation, he thought might never come.

Richard Overton, this American veteran, is 107 years old and we are honored that he's here with us today.  So let's ask Richard to stand again, because he can stand.

Oldest WWII Veteran Meets President Obama


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