A World War II veteran, Ernie Andrus, is running from the east coast to the west coast to raise funds to sail the fully restored military landing ship USS LST 325 to Normandy. This is not the first time the 96-year old is running long-distance. Taking inspiration from a British cross country runner, Andrus hit the track at the age of 88 to participate in the Ragnar 200-miles relay.
In his words, initially, it was for “the adventure and the fun of it.” But, the encouraging response from the public and veterans reignited the passion for taking the LST 325 back to Normandy.
He is back in action and covering 13-miles a week, currently on Highway 190, with plans to reach the west coast in the next four years. The idea is to raise funds so that they reach Normandy on LST 325 for a D-Day anniversary.
On Mission to Make Impossible, Possible
With real passion and hard-work, humans can achieve the “impossible.” Andrus is a real-life example of that human spirit.
“This was a dream a few of my shipmates and I had which we figured could never happen,” the Lafayette Daily quoted Andrus as saying.
For the WWII Navy corpsman, who served on the USS LST 124, the job during the war was to keep wounded Marines alive until they reached a hospital.
“God was good to me,” Andrus told the daily, adding, “I never lost a patient during the entire war.”
God Helps Everyone
After three years of rigorous effort, his shipmates managed to get LST 325, the closest of the WWII version LST 125, to use as a floating memorial.
He completed the first cross-country run in August 2016 at the age of 93. The oldest person in history to do so. He is once again on the road, but this time to raise funds for a noble cause. Unperturbed by the current virus-crisis, he starts his day at 3 AM and retires by 9 PM.
A retired firefighter, John Martin is helping him in his mission, and a Marine is assisting in managing logistics required for the run.
He is missing those hugs and handshakes during the social-distancing restrictions. But he encourages great souls to join him in the race to fulfill the dream of veterans.
He says, “I’ll run, you can walk. My pace is slow”.