ST. SIMON’S ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — After two years and 10 months, 93-year-old Ernie Andrus has made it across America.
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.
“Oh, it’s great,” Andrus told The Brunswick News after the run was over. “I’m glad to have finished and met the goal. But I wish it wasn’t over.”
People travelled from as far away as Arizona and New York to be there at the end of his journey. A marching band welcomed him, and the crowds shouted his name.
“All these people, it’s so wonderful,” he said. “This is great, this is the biggest crowd I have had, ever.”
John and Michelle Crosby met Andrus when he ran through Madisonville, Louisiana, last year and went on to accompany him on 15 legs of his journey, including his trek through Mobile, Alabama, in February. Along the way they have helped him with police escorts. But this was the first time they had seen him since Mobile.
Mobile City Councilman John Williams met Andrus when he ran into the district Williams represents.
“It didn’t take long after his arrival to know we had a special person in our city,” Williams told AL.com
Andrus turned 93 on Friday.
He was running to raise money to return a WWII-era ship in Indiana to Normandy, France, for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing. He was a medic on a similar ship during the war.
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.