The University of Texas at Austin
  • A Mission for Mr. Overton

    By Jessica Sinn, College of Liberal Arts
    Published: Nov. 8, 2013

    A group of Army ROTC students set forth on an important mission in early October. They spent an entire day remodeling the home of 107-year-old World War II veteran Richard Overton.

    Texas Army ROTC volunteers to repair home of oldest living WWII veteran

    [Credit: Army ROTC]

    For nearly seven decades, the East Austin house has been Overton’s home since he returned from war in 1945. Though he’s made improvements over the years, the house was in dire need of some major renovations.

    But then came an army of volunteers to bring the house back to life. Sixty Army ROTC cadets and several Military Science faculty members joined volunteers from Austin Community College, Home Depot and the City of Austin’s Veterans Services to completely remodel the home. Among the many repairs, they replaced the windows, refrigerator and ceiling fans, landscaped the yard, painted and overhauled the porch.

    Army ROTC Cadet Travis Strahan said the one-day home makeover was an incredibly rewarding experience that he will never forget.

    Texas Army ROTC volunteers to repair home of oldest living WWII veteran

    [Credit: Army ROTC]

    “I have always enjoyed working with my hands to create and contribute to the construction of a project, whether that be a fence, landscaping, or painting,” Strahan says. “Having the opportunity to do something like that again whilst helping out one of America’s heroes was truly an awesome experience. From an individual standpoint though, being around and speaking with a man who has experienced more than I could possibly hope to experience in my life was a surreal experience.”

    For Army ROTC Cadet Aidan Dietz, the home repair project gave her the unique opportunity to give back to an important cause.

    “I decided to be a part of this amazing opportunity because it allowed me to be part of something bigger,” Dietz says. “We worked as a team to help out someone that needed it within our community. This was truly one of the grandest opportunities that someone could be honored with. I am humbled by the fact that I was able to witness history, and spend priceless time with a true American hero who is still fighting strong today at 107 years old.”

    Overton, who is believed to be the country’s oldest living World War II veteran, visited with the volunteers, expressing his gratitude for their hard work. Army ROTC Cadet Megan Wenning said she was honored to meet Overton and help him live comfortably in his own home.

    “I have always enjoyed the art of self-service, and improving the lives of others who have already done so much their nation,” Wenning says. “Working with others who entail the same drive and passion to help people in the community was one of the greatest experiences I have ever been a part of. I am blessed that I was able to work on this project, and give back to Mr. Overton who gave so much for our country.”

    Texas Army ROTC volunteers to repair home of oldest living WWII veteran

    [Credit: Army ROTC]

    This story originally published in the College of Liberal Arts magazine under the title, “No Place Like Home.”

    • Quote 2
      lloyd spruce said on Nov. 13, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.
      terrific story & great job cadets, truly inspiring.
    • Quote 2
      Jennifer Chavarria said on Nov. 13, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
      Aww! That man does not look a day over 80! What a wonderful act of kindness from the UT ROTC. Hooah!
    • Quote 2
      Lucy said on Nov. 13, 2013 at 9:34 a.m.
      Amazing! Can you imagine the stories Mr Overton could tell after 107 years. Some good, some bad, but 107 years of life experiences. I wish you the best Mr. Overton.
    • Quote 2
      bill said on Nov. 13, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.
      i bet UT got a royalty for those "Army" UT shirts!
    • Quote 2
      Brenda Jo said on Nov. 12, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.
      Thanks to this group for sharing your time and skills! Mr. Overton was honored by President Obama yesterday in Washington, D.C. during the annual Veteran's Day activities. He will return to Austin tonight, Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at ABIA around 7:30 pm according to KOKE-FM. Please use this opportunity to welcome him home to Austin and show him his much deserved respect. Be there in the 1st level baggage claim area this evening to cheer him!
    • Quote 2
      Shannon said on Nov. 11, 2013 at 8:57 p.m.
      Bravo, UT! Thanks for sharing an inspiring story. And, thanks for remembering veterans. Enjoyed hearing the carillon today before noon playing all military songs. Thanks for reminding us to remember them.
    • Quote 2
      Faith said on Nov. 11, 2013 at 5:18 p.m.
    • Quote 2
      Mary said on Nov. 11, 2013 at 12:42 p.m.
      Mr. Overton was interviewed on the radio this morning. He still drives and helps others who can't by taking them to church. What a remarkable man!
    • Quote 2
      Martha said on Nov. 11, 2013 at 11:59 a.m.
      Wow... I wish this type of article was in the news more often. Bravo!
    • Quote 2
      Stephanie said on Nov. 11, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
      This is what life is about...this story just made my day!!! Thank you Mr. Overton!!!
    • Quote 2
      Elizabeth said on Nov. 11, 2013 at 9:49 a.m.
      Excellent. Just plain excellent. I absolutely loved reading about this.
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Print
    • email

    Related Topics

    , , , , , , , ,