Ernie’s journey: Coast-to-coast
By Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer, 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 06, 2015
STERLING CITY, Texas --
Ernie Andrus, 91-year-old Navy World War II veteran, ran 7.11 miles through Sterling City March 26, as part of his cross-country journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.
Andrus was one of the crew that brought the USS LST-325, a tank landing ship, back from the Isle of Crete, Greece to the United States from 2000 to 2001, to display the ship as a museum.
He now runs across the U.S. in hopes of raising enough money to return the ship to Normandy for the 2019 D-Day memorial service, its 75th anniversary, and beach it at the same location where it was on D-Day.
"When I ran my first 200-mile relay I was 88 years old, and I got so much attention," said Andrus. "I thought, 'gee, if I get that much attention on a relay, what if I actually did that cross country? Maybe I could raise some money for the ship and get it back to Normandy.'"
With this goal in mind, Andrus drives his recreational vehicle to various cities where he completes a distance run. Andrus averages from a half to full marathon a week.
Ernie updates his fans along the way on his social media page where hundreds of people cheer him on and sometimes meet up with him to join him on his adventure.
Team Red White and Blue members from Goodfellow Air Force Base joined him on his run through Sterling City.
"I was in a state of awe the entire leg," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric M. Murray, 344th Military Intelligence Battalion course supervisor and Team RWB representative. "I was completely amazed at what Mr. Andrus was doing. I am going back on Saturday to accompany him on the next leg of his journey."
The 91-year-old veteran has met some obstacles along the way, but that did not stop him from completing his mission.
"Ernest Andrus is the epitome of resilience," said Murray. "He has overcome so much on his journey. He has not let age slow him down; he overcame bad weather, tough terrain, expenses, broken down vehicles that slowed down his progression and even the death of his wife, yet he never quit."
Ernie's wife had a stroke while he was three weeks into his cross-country journey. When he received the phone call, he went back home to be with his wife in her dying hours. After she passed, Ernie continued his journey to complete his goal.
Marine Corps Sgt. Tyler V. Gile, 316th Training Squadron instructor and Team RWB representative, also shined light on Ernie's resiliency.
"Ernie has been through more than anyone can ever imagine, and he still finds the will to get up every single morning, get on Facebook, update everyone, answer all questions, respond to all friend requests, answer all emails, and then he goes and runs five to seven miles every other day," said Gile. "Seeing just how determined he is to complete his mission is awe inspiring."
After the run, Murray presented Andrus with his battalion's coin for excellence.
Ernie's journey continues as he makes his way through Texas.