Coast Guardsmen welcome oldest known living WWII veteran to DC

Coast Guardsmen welcome 107-year-old Army veteran Richard Overton (center) to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10, 2013. The Coast Guardsmen pictured are, left to right, Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Osetek (holding Alexander Osetek), Lt. Jennifer Osetek, Lt. Tara Collins (in her Arlington Police Department uniform), Capt. James O'Keefe, Senior Chief Petty Officer Dexter Hall, and Lt. Byron Dixon. Also pictured are Honor Flight volunteers, military escorts and Overton’s guest, Earlene Love-Karo, who is seen to the right of Overton.

Coast Guardsmen welcome 107-year-old Army veteran Richard Overton (center) to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10, 2013. The Coast Guardsmen pictured are, left to right, Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Osetek (holding Alexander Osetek), Lt. Jennifer Osetek, Lt. Tara Collins (in her Arlington Police Department uniform), Capt. James O’Keefe, Senior Chief Petty Officer Dexter Hall, and Lt. Byron Dixon. Also pictured are Honor Flight volunteers, military escorts and Overton’s guest, Earlene Love-Karo, who is seen to the right of Overton.

Post written by PA3 Lisa Ferdinando

Coast Guardsmen, including reservists from Sector Baltimore, welcomed an American hero to Washington D.C. – the oldest known living World War II veteran, 107-year-old Richard Overton.

Overton was visiting Washington for Veterans Day and was surprised by the huge welcome at the airport from members of the Coast Guard, other military branches and the public.

The Coast Guardsmen said they were grateful to have the opportunity to welcome the Army veteran, who was a member of the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, an all-black unit that served on various islands in the Pacific. 

Capt. James O’Keefe, the division chief at the Personnel Service Center in Arlington, Va., said he was proud to represent the Coast Guard and greet Overton.

“Mr. Overton’s story is especially inspirational,” said O’Keefe. “He fought and risked his life in service to his country despite the fact that he was not yet treated as an equal back home.”  

Despite the hardships and adversity, Overton was willing to serve the nation hope and knowledge that the situation would get better, he said.

“Not only are we thankful for his great sacrifice, but this is a glowing reminder of our responsibility to continue to serve,” said O’Keefe.  

“What a great example Mr. Overton has set for all of us,” he said. “It was a true honor to say ‘thank you’ to this American hero.” 

Other Coast Guardsmen at Reagan National Airport for the Nov. 10 ceremony were Lieutenants Tara Collins, Byron Dixon and Jennifer Osetek, reservists with Sector Baltimore; Senior Chief Petty Officer Dexter Hall with the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center; and Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Osetek with the Naval Engineering Department in Portsmouth, Va.  

“When we learned about Mr. Overton’s arrival through the Honor Flight organization, we knew this was an amazing opportunity to greet someone who is such an important part of American history,” said Osetek.

“His service during World War II was honorable by itself but his visit to Washington helped to re-demonstrate our nation’s gratitude toward all our World War II veterans,” she said.  

“It was an honor to just be able to say ‘thank you’,” she said.

Overton, who traveled from Austin, Texas, was a guest of President Barack Obama at the White House for a Veterans Day breakfast and attended the president’s Veterans Day event at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where Overton was mentioned by name in the president’s speech. 

It was indeed a great moment to be a part of this very special visit to Washington, the Coast Guardsmen said.

“Honor Flight is an emotional event that truly reminds each of us how much we owe the folks that sacrificed so much,” said O’Keefe.

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