Tuesday, April 29, 2014

90 year old Veteran is on a Life Journey to run across the United States.

Ernie Andrus in front of his motor home.
A 90-year-old World War II veteran is on his coast-to-coast run to raise funds for a landmark ship memorial.

Ernie Andrus runs three days a week, doing 7.5 miles each time. Andrus proudly served during the D-Day invasion. He and his shipmates fixed up an old tank landing ship, which is at the heart of his decision to run.

"And I'm hoping to raise enough money to take it back to Normandy for the D-Day plus 75," he said. "We wanted it there for D-Day plus 70, which is next year, but we ran out of money."

His collection of running shoes.

Andrus expects it will take three years to reach the east coast.

That would make him 93 when he finishes his run and 96 at the D-Day anniversary.

Ernie Andrus started embarking on his mission on Oct. 7 near San Diego. He said he plans to reach the Atlantic in another three years or so. "I run my first half marathon when I was 87. I run my second one when I was 89," said Andrus.

He didn't start running for recreation until after he retired at 64 years old.

"Found out the oldest guy who's ever done it was in his 70's. I thought, well, I'll be the first 90 year old man to do it," Andrus said. He's doing it to raise money for the LST 325 Ship Memorial, Inc. 

The organization wants to return the Navy vessel to Normandy in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Andrus said 1,051 LSTs were built during World War II. It participated in the invasion of Sicily, Salerno and Normandy. During the Normandy invasion, it made 40 roundtrips between England and France carrying troops, supplies and wounded.

The LST 325 is the only one left that has been restored and is still operational.

Andrus said he welcomes any runners who would like to join him on any leg of his ambitious journey. 

Ambitious journey will end when he is 94.

Andrus’s trek starts at 6:30 a.m. leaving his motor home without eating breakfast, powered only by a cup of coffee. On his cross-country trip, Andrus runs three days a week, about 7 1/2 miles a day. Getting back to his home on wheels each day isn't ever a problem. "I know I can stick out my thumb and the first person to come by will give me a ride. They won't pass up this old man out there, you know," said Andrus.

People wishing to sponsor him can send contributions payable to "Coast to Coast Runs" at 304 Brooklawn Dr., Banning, CA 92220.

Andrus turns 91 in August and hopes to touch the Atlantic Ocean in Brunswick, Georgia before he turns 94.

We wish him well on his journey of a lifetime.

Nancy Burban 2014

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