Epic Run By 93 Year Old Veteran to Send a WWII Ship Back to Normandy

Ernie Andrus with a crowd of supporteds. Image from Facebook / Coast2CoastRuns
Ernie Andrus with a crowd of supporteds. Image from Facebook / Coast2CoastRuns

What would you do if you wanted to raise the money to send a WWII-era ship from Indiana to Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings? Well if you were 93-year-old Ernie Andrus, you would do a mighty amount of forward planning and then take two years to run across America from San Diego to St. Simon’s Island in Georgia.

On 7 October 2013, Ernie departed from San Diego and for the next 34 months he walked, jogged, and ran across the southern states of the US until on Saturday 20th August 2016. At the end of his journey, Ernie waded into the Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by a marching band, and amid scores of family and well-wishers, at St. Simon’s Island in Georgia.

This was an astronomical feat for the adventurous nonagenarian, who served as a medic during WWII. He had a simple desire, and that was to send a ship similar to the one that he had served on in WWII back to France. Along the way he has inspired many people and some, like John and Michelle Crosby, accompanied him on parts of his epic journey. They met him when he was running through Madisonville, Louisiana, and being moved by his quest they joined him on 15 legs of his journey. Such was his influence that people journeyed from as far afield as Arizona and New York to see him end his odyssey.

Andrus, in an interview with The Brunswick News, said “Oh, it’s great. I’m glad to have finished and met the goal. But I wish it wasn’t over.”

This sprightly elderly gentleman is not ready to put on his slippers and nod off in front of the fire. He is setting off to drive his motor home to Alaska to visit his stepdaughter, and then it is the Alaska Highway for him.

His determination to complete this monumental task despite his age prove that it is never too late to have a dream and complete it.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE