107-year-old U.S. veteran says he owes longevity to cigars, whiskey and ‘staying out of trouble’

Richard Overton is the oldest-living known U.S. veteran at 107 years old. He wasn’t a young man when the U.S. entered World War II—he was 36. 71 years later, he’s still walking without a cane, driving and permanently wearing a beaming smile.

The secret to his health and happiness? Pretty simple, really: Cigars, whiskey, and “staying out of trouble.”

Overton was honored over the weekend at an event to commemorate Veterans Day. President Obama requested his presence personally. (“Maybe he wants to send me back over there,” Overton joked about receiving the call from the president.)

At an event in Austin, Texas last week Overton was honored at an event as part of the lead-up to Veterans Day, where he was given a box of cigars. He says he still smokes up to about a dozen per day, and takes whiskey in his coffee each morning. When interviewed by local news station he told the reporter about his cigar habit, “”I’ve smoked about six already [today].” Overton lived through a harrowing experience in the South Pacific theater in World War II only to live another 70-odd years smoking twelve cigars a day. The man truly has nine lives.

Two months ago British Dorothy Peel celebrated her 111th birthday in the England and told local press that she owes her longevity to booze and cigarettes. “Half a pint of sherry in the morning, for lunch a gin and tonic and around 7 p.m. a small ginger ale with a bit of whisky,” that was her recipe for clocking over a hundred years of healthy living. While she quit smoking at age 103 she still has the “odd cig at Christmas or New Year along with pink champagne.”

Maybe there’s something to it—the oldest living U.S. veteran and one of UK’s oldest women citing booze and smokes as the keys to their longevity.

Then again, another of Overton’s rules for survival is pure common sense: “Stay out of trouble, I guess, tend to your own business, don’t somebody gonna kill you now, they shootin’ at everybody now, every night, they shootin’ somebody, so you gotta be careful.”

Damn straight. When someone who’s been around this long knows an unusual amount of people are getting shot, you should probably listen.