top of page
  • Writer's pictureDale Holbrook

Richard Arvin Overton

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

In 2019, I was compelled to sculpt Richard Arvin Overton and enter the Bay Pines Veterans art competition. It is Nationwide, medical facilities like the Bay Pines VAHCS use creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities.

Richard Arvin Overton

PTSD Post-traumatic Stress Disorder


This stress-related disorder has contributed to so much pain. Caused so many deaths and affected so many negatively but yet no real cure or remedy has or will ever totally repair this scar on their lives! Yes we try many remedies and they do help but there is not one cure-all and it’s difficult to pinpoint the specific remedy but we must never give up on our veterans. There are many therapeutical options and one hopes that only a pill is your choice! This is the challenge we all as Americans desperately need to aggressively help and NOT forget the brave men and women we asked to go in harm for Americans’ liberty and survival! It’s also important to understand it’s not just dodging bullets that causes PTSD This could happen at any level of stress that one has been exposed to but don’t forget we asked our military to be exposed to this while serving so we are responsible to return the favor to help! My remedy has been art and sculpture and to be honest, listening to stories other combat veterans have lived through has lessened my need for my PTSD symptoms and helped me cope with the help of sculpting art!

Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA healthcare facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. There is also an art therapy association and an article By Peter J. Buotte stated “Art is a visual language“. Human beings have been using art for this purpose for thousands of years. The cave paintings discovered in Lascaux, France, and Picasso’s Guernica are celebrated examples. Visual arts offer veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a non-threatening alternative to composing images that are inexpressible to them with words.

Richard Arvin Overton winner

Many warriors encounter the invisible consequences of war each day. As a sculptor, I want to try to make visible the experience of today’s Wounded Warrior who was physically or mentally wounded in any military service to the present start a conversation, or tell a story visually! Remember that above all, a sculptor is a storyteller. Where’s the story? Why should we care? These are the questions one should have constantly playing in one’s mind when choosing a subject and a means of portraying it.

I had only 50 days to complete a sculpture that moved me or compelled me but I had what writers refer to as “writer’s block“. I could think of nothing because had too many choices. Then I watched videos of Richard Overton and I had to capture his personality and story and if you listen to his way of life and all that he went through I didn’t feel so stressed. As part of the art therapy requirement for competitive, I had to write and explain why I chose this subject and how this made me feel. I chose the title “Perseverance” because after seeing what he has seen through combat and hardships like Tom Crow and the depression as well as segregation and many hardships “PERSEVERANCE” defines the ability to keep doing something in spite of difficulties!


WW II VETERAN All–Black 1887th Engineering Aviation Richard Overton passed away on December 27th, 2018.

This was the statement I submitted with the sculpture: added below titled PERSEVERANCE

Even though I was awarded 1st place and “best of show“ at Bay Pines I didn’t make it to national because the requirement for sculpture was supposed to be about me and not someone else! I think this was a grey area on how I expressed and related to Richard but I didn’t challenge it because this is and was my therapy and not a NEW stress addition lol.

I shared this story to share my feelings and how we all need to ACTIVELY help our veterans now because the death rate by suicide is unacceptable as well as their suffering in life. Veterans sacrificed their lives to give us ours and a lot have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

Richard Arvin Overton sculpture



RICHARD ARVIN OVERTON-WW II VETERAN All-Black 1887 Engineering Aviation Battalion


I first heard about Richard Overton in the news. One hundred twelve years old and the oldest living veteran survivor of Pearl Harbor. As I listened to his story, I couldn’t help but wonder about his Military life compared to mine. When Overton arrived at Pearl Harbor, the battleships were still smoldering and the water was blood red. He was also in Okinawa and Iwo Jima. During his interview, Richard Overton talked about bullets ricocheting overhead. I can’t imagine how traumatic his combat experience must have been. I think about my combat experience and it’s very different. I feel if Richard Overton can deal with his past combat experiences with help from others and his own way of self-help, I can learn from his example. One of which is this art therapy which helps me tremendously. When I’m focused on art I find myself thinking of nothing else but the artwork.

Over the years Richard Overton found his own ways to deal with his PTSD or back then it was called “battle fatigue”. Richard Overton was an American Icon and Texas Legend. His personality, humility, good nature, and love of his country were his strengths. Richard Overton has credited his full life partly to eating butter pecan ice cream, a dab of whiskey of his morning coffee, and smoking an average of twelve cigars a day. I thought to myself I may not smoke any cigars but I love to meet him because he seemed so happy and warm.

I discovered that a little over a month ago Richard Overton passed away on December 27, 2018. What encouraged me to honor Richard Overton with a sculpture for this Military Combat Experience Exhibit, was the respect that I have for his attitude and will to survive his PTSD with his way of life. My personal favorite was something that Richard Overton had one time stated;

“I don’t think about death. You can’t do anything about that. It’s gonna come whether you want it or not. JUST GOTTA THINK ABOUT LIVING”.

Richard Overton

I can just picture him on his front porch leaning back in his chair smoking a cigar after he stated this. This image (enclosed) was my choice of sculpture pose to capture his personality and likeness.

I thought to myself “This is perseverance”, and I think we all can learn from Richard Overton’s great example of how to find happiness and live a full life. I know I will!



A Facebook Post from Sarah Overton

27 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page