A 93-year-old World War II veteran, Ernie Andrus, marked the end of a nearly 2,600 mile run across the United States when he finally dipped his toes in the Atlantic Ocean at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, on Saturday morning, nearly three years after starting his marathon journey in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
Andrus reportedly completed his run one day after his birthday.
The Brunswick News reports:
Andrus took this challenge upon himself to raise awareness and money for a tub of metal and bolts known as the LST [Landing Ship, Tank] 325, one of the sturdy amphibious landing vessels that helped win WWII by bringing men, machinery and firepower quickly to shore in heated battles from Normandy to Iwo Jima. But LST 325 is the last of its kind in active service, sailing to ports across America as a floating museum dedicated to that war and the Landing Ship Tank’s important role in it.
“All these people, it’s so wonderful. This is great, this is the biggest crowd I have had, ever,” the WWII warrior told The Brunswick News upon arriving at St. Simons Island, where he was greeted by crowds cheering his name.
“I’m glad to have finished and met the goal. But I wish it wasn’t over,” he added.
Andrus completed his journey after two years, 10 months, and 20 days.
The Associated Press (AP) notes:
The World War II veteran dipped his toes in the Atlantic Ocean Saturday morning, ending a cross-country run that started in San Diego.
Local media reported that Andrus was surrounded by hundreds of people including family members and friends who have joined him at different parts along his journey.
He started his trek Oct. 7, 2013 on the sands of San Diego, weaving his way over the months and years through the southern United States until he reached St. Simon’s Island in Georgia on Saturday morning.
Andrus was met by people from as far away as Arizona and New York when he ended his run.
The AP reports, “A marching band welcomed him, and the crowds shouted his name. … Now that this epic run is finished, Andrus has already planned a new adventure. He’s going to drive his motor home to Alaska where his stepdaughter lives and drive the Alaska Highway.”