Frank Livingston, the oldest living man in the United States and the oldest verified surviving American World War II veteran, died this past Tuesday at the age of 110. Livingston served as a US Army private in WWII, participating in the Allied invasion of Italy that lasted from 1943 to 1994. Livingston was honorably discharged after the war and worked as a skilled union laborer.
On August 16, 2015, he was acknowledged as the oldest living military veteran in the United States. Then on April 19, 2016, he became the oldest living American following the death of Emma Didlake at the age of 110. Didlake was also a veteran who served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during WWII as a driver.
With the death of Livingston, the next oldest living WWII veteran is now Richard Arvine Overton, another Black veteran who served during the Pacific campaigns against the Japanese. Overton fought in battles that included Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima and left the Army at the rank of Sergeant in 1945.
The service of these Black veterans should be noted as they all served in segregated units predominantly led by White superior officers. US President Harry S. Truman desegregated the armed forces of the United States in 1948 by Executive Order. Korea became the first war where Blacks fought alongside White soldiers to the outrage of many top military officials. After the Korean War, Blacks saw more opportunity in the military and America saw more Black officers and non-commissioned officers. In 1966, Captain Jerome Gary Cooper became the first Black to lead a Marine Rifle Company in combat. The Marine Corps was the last branch of the armed forces to desegregate after fierce resistance from top level Marine Corps officers and personnel.