Two 107-year-old veterans from Texas met for the first time here in Austin Friday. It's believed that Richard Overton and Elmer Hill may be the oldest living vets in the nation.
Richard Overton and Elmer Hill gave each other a warm embraced as they greeted each other on this cold and wet Austin day.
Both men are 107 years old. Organizers with Honor Flight Austin set the table for this long awaited introduction.
"How ya been doing, all right, asked Hill. Overton replied, "Yes."
They served during WWII and fought in the Pacific Theater. Overton was in the Army. Hill was a Navy man working as a cook and gunner on an aircraft carrier.
"I didn't volunteer. They put me in there," Hill said.
Asked later what advice he had for younger generations, Hill said, "Be good to yourself and your master and be a good citizen, wherever you are, whether it's Navy, Army or just as a person at the house."
When considering all the time that has passed by Hill joked, "I'm not that old I've just been here a long time."
When asked about some of his strongest memories, Overton recalled watching soldiers march over a Colorado River bridge into Austin. They came from San Antonio, after training to fight in WWI, and marched by foot because the transport trains had no room for them.
Overton was in his 30s when WWII broke out and he volunteered. He served in the Army's 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion. When asked about his time at war, Overton did not want to provide specific details.
"Some things you went through in that Army you will never forget," he said. "But it's too much to tell. You can't tell it all."
As the two military veterans sat together there was little talk about war, but a small skirmish did pop up regarding age.
"This is the young man that they were talking about," Hill asked. When I told him Overton was a few months older, he gave a broad smiled and laughed.
"He is a 107? …I'd better move mine up a little bit," said a laughing Hill.
They also talked about how strange it is their paths never crossed despite living in towns a few hours apart.
"Glad to meet him, I've heard talk of him but was never in his part of the country, he'd been in mine part of the country but we didn't meet there we didn't know each other," said Overton.
Hill actually at one time briefly lived in Austin. He attended Huston-Tillotson College but now resides in an East Texas retirement home.
"I'm glad to be able to be anywhere," said Hill.
Overton has always been in Austin and worked at the state Capitol in the mail room and at a local furniture store.
This unexpected holiday meeting was made possible because an employee who works for the company that runs this retirement community. She saw a recent trip that Mr. Overton took and it's a trip Mr. Hill is going to take because of an unexpected fund raising project. A Presidential Veterans Day visit for Mr. Overton got things moving. The sale of special Veterans Day pins by employees with the lower Colorado River Authority is paying for Hill's Honor Flight trip to Washington D.C. He's scheduled to be at the white house Monday morning and a possible chance to meet the President.
"Well, all right that will be nice… I didn't know all that was in the plan," said Hill.
That plan that was later sealed with a handshake, and a new friendship that time and even war could not stop.
Organizers with Honor Flight Austin are planning a Monday night home coming at ABIA for Mr. Hill. The group is still trying to raise money for its next trip to Washington with another group of veterans.