The key to remarkable longevity in life?

I could just be replacing birthday cake with cigars, whiskey, burgers and milkshakes.

That’s what World War II veteran Richard Overton did, and he turns 109 on May 11 — officially making him the oldest living former military service member in the United States.

A proud Austin resident who still drives his car, tends to his lawn and escorts widows to church celebrated his milestone with an outdoor party on Sunday that had an appropriate theme: “Mighty Fine at 109”. He does it every year, but this particular one was special: it was sponsored by Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes.

Naturally, from time to time, people bring up the million dollar question: his secret to a long life. Overton answers honestly but without any certainty. According to him, well, it isn’t really up to him.

“You have to ask God about that. He brought me here and he’s taking care of me, and nothing I can do about it,” the veteran said. “I can talk about what he’s doing for me.”

Born in Texas in 1906, Overton served in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1945 as part of the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviator Battalion. After returning from the war, he worked at an Austin furniture store and didn’t stop working until he was around 100 years of age.

Do you enjoy a good cigar? Thompson Cigars offer a 10% military discount on all orders.

More from the Washington Post:

Overton — who has said he never thought the country would have a black president — met President Obama in 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery. The president then made special mention of Overton during his remarks.


“When the war ended, Richard headed home to Texas to a nation bitterly divided by race,” Obama said in 2013. “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. He carried on and lived his life with honor and dignity.”