Nation's oldest WWII vet Richard Overton celebrating 111th birthday

Richard Overton celebrated his 111th birthday surrounded by family and friends.

AUSTIN, Texas - Richard Overton, the world’s oldest living World War II veteran and Austinite, is turning 111 on Thursday. 

Overton was born May 11, 1906, and lives in the same home he purchased after his service in World War II. He joined the military in 1942 and served in the Pacific as part of the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.

Earlier this year, more than $169,000 was raised in a GoFundMe campaign to provide Overton with around-the-clock in-home care. His third cousin, Volma Overton Jr., began the campaign after it was feared that Overton would be forced to moved to an assisted living facility

Overton said he has used the money to hire an in-home senior care provider to provide 24-7 support. 

Each year, Overton's birthday has attracted worldwide attention -- much to the surprise of the veteran.

"I'm really surprised, I really didn't know there was going to be this many people. I knew it was going to be somebody, but I didn't know it was going to be like this and I really enjoyed it," Overton said about his 109th birthday party in 2015.

In 2016, around two dozen people gathered at his East Austin home to wish the supercentarian a happy birthday. Some took pictures or selfies with Mr. Overton.

A few of Overton's secrets to good health: Smoking a cigar everyday, having an occasional whiskey and surrounding himself with good friends.

"I can smoke a cigar and be happy... I've been smoking them since I was 18-years-old," said Overton.

Austin NBC-affiliate KVUE says the city is giving Hamilton Avenue, the street Overton has lived on for the past 45 years, the honorary name of Richard Overton Avenue, effective on his birthday.

Overton has been alive through 18 U.S. presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt, who was in office when he was born. Speaking of Roosevelt, just a few months after Richard was born, President Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower, Wyoming as the country's first national monument. Roosevelt also took the first trip by president outside of the U.S. in 1906.

And some things that weren't around when Richard was born in 1906:

  • The curtain rod and paper towels were invented in 1907.
  • Candy apples - invented in 1908
  • Skee ball - invented in 1909
  • Hamburger buns - invented in 1916
  • Sliced bread - first released in 1928

PHOTOS: County's oldest living WWII vet Richard Overton

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