As we often see in the news, some people house incredible strength within them. Take this 95-year-old World War II veteran, for example. He just set out to transverse the entire United States, on foot…for the second time! Here’s his amazing story…
The World War II Veteran Who Crossed The Country On Foot
Meet Ernie Andrus: a 95-year-old World War II veteran, whose story will both delight and inspire you. Andrus has been running for decades; it’s a form of release for him. However, around 2015, the veteran became bored with running in the same routes in his neighborhood. “I just needed to get back on the highway and have some fun in the years I’ve got left,” he said.
So, back in August 2016, Andrus decided to run across in the country just after his 90th birthday. His astounding journey took him a total of two years and ten months. Andrus started his journey in California, and it took the veteran 2,631 miles to reach the Georgia shore, just before his 93rd birthday.
Sounds incredible, right? But hold on to your hats: Andrus is now going on a second cross-country run! The veteran started this past March, and this time went the other way, starting in Georgia. This 4th of July he crossed into Florida, 175 miles into his journey, felt better than ever. In an interview to CNN, Andrus said: “I could never turn down the chance for an adventure.”
Andrus’ Second Trip
Andrus calculated it will take him five years to finish his second coast to coast trek. He’s in no hurry; second time around, Andrus wants to visit friends he made along the way during his previous run. With his plan of running 13 miles a week, resting every 4.5 miles, the 95-year-old runner feels confident he’ll hit his goals. Andrus also takes days off; he runs on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
Each day of running follows the same basic schedule: the veteran wakes up before sunrise and finds a stretch of quiet road with a paved shoulder, to keep himself safe. Often, he runs solo, under the radar. Meanwhile, other times, there are crowds with thousands of people who wait for him and cheer him on, like in the town of Jasper, Texas. Seeing so many places has also taught him a lot about the US. “There’s a lot of good, loving people in this country,” Andrus said.
Still, even on the quiet days, the veteran’s never truly alone: his travel partner John Martin, who he met in his previous run, always trails behind, often with state troopers, in case anything goes wrong. Andrus has a motor home, in which after the morning run he’ll have breakfast with Martin and then takes a good long nap.
The Veteran’s Life Dream
During World War II, Andrus served in the Navy’s Hospital Corps. He was in charge of the sick bay on a landing ship, tank (LST), also known as tank landing ship, a ship that carried tanks and ran ashore, releasing them in combat. Even back then, Andrus ran frequently, and it helped him fight off depression and homesickness.
After WWII, Andrus and his shipmates docked their ship, LST 325, off the coast of Crete, where it remained for many years. However, eventually, he and his fellow veterans restored the vessel. Of the 1,000 LSTs built during the second world war, the LST 325. It even became the subject of a History Channel documentary, which covered the veterans moving the ship from Greece to Alabama. Today, LST 325 resides in Indiana. Andrus hopes to use his running to raise money to restore the tanker and sail it to Normandy. While the veteran isn’t there yet, he still has plenty of time and miles to raise the funds. “I’ll be 100 by the time I finish. Who knows what life holds in the next few years,” the 95-year-old vet said.
You can keep up with Andrus’ progress and donate to his cause here.