A 95-year-old WWII veteran is walking across the country for the second time to raise money for the LST 325 Ship Memorial.
Ernest Andrus, who served as a Navy Corpsman in the Pacific during World War II, departed March 16 from Georgia and is on his way to California, in a trip that he estimates will take five years, WAFF 48 News reported.’
Andrus’ website says he wants to bring the LST 325 ship to the shores of Normandy for a D-Day Memorial since it is the very last restored and operational World War II shore-landing ship of 1051 built during World War II.
“I didn’t raise near enough money on my first run so I’m trying again,” Andrus said on his website.
His travel buddy John planted a sign in Georgia that said, “Ernie’s Starting Point” as they left earlier this year. Unbeknownst to the pair, they hit a heatwave as temperatures in southern Georgia hit record highs over Memorial Day, but Andrus said he still feels great.
“It was hot, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable. People that run with me thought it was uncomfortable,” Andrus said.
Andrus is no newcomer to the fluctuating weather of a cross country trek. Andrus’ first cross country journey began near San Diego in October 2013 and ended in August 2016 when he was 93 years old, Military Times reported.
This time, he’s traveling slower. He estimates this journey will take him five years and will end when he’s 100 years old. He plans to complete 13 miles per week and raise more money for the memorial.
His first run raised $30,000, but this time, he said he needs much more.
“We need millions,” Andrus said in an email to Military Times. “I’m hoping if a hundred-year-old Navy Vet completes a coast to coast run the Navy will take notice and maybe give us some help.”
“It is important that they remember what past generations sacrificed to create a free nation and what my generation and today’s generation are still doing to keep it that way. The younger people need to be prepared to do their part if needed,” Andrus told Military Times.
When asked which was harder, walking or the war, Andrus told WAFF48, “World War II. Young people, they go there looking for adventure more than anything else, get in the action, because they’re indestructible, and I wasn’t any different than any other teenager, but once over there, you start thinking about getting home alive.”
“Freedom is not free! We were called on to do our part. Generations were called on do their part, and future generations will probably have to do their part,” he added.