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Oldest World War II vet joins Obama at Arlington National Cemetery

Nov. 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Richard Overton, believed to be the oldest surviving U.S. veteran of World War II, joined President Obama on Veterans Day for a White House breakfast.

Overton, 107, then accompanied the president to Arlington National Cemetery. He got two standing ovations from the hundreds of people gathered for Obama's speech at the Tomb of the Unknowns, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Overton joined the U.S. Army in 1942, CNN reported. He served in an all-black unit on Guam and Iwo Jima.

"I only got out of there by the grace of God," Obama quoted Overton as saying.

The president also spoke of the country to which Overton.

"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," Obama said.

Overton remains active and a regular churchgoer. The trip was his second to Washington this year, with the first a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in May.

While Overton said he has lived a long time because he "tried to stay out of trouble," he also attributed his longevity to smoking cigars and adding a bit of whiskey to his morning coffee.

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