WWII Veteran makes history running coast to coast

By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 7, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- With a world record already under his belt, Ernie Andrus is back on the pavement in South Georgia.

Just over two years ago, World War II Veteran Ernie Andrus, 95, made history as the oldest person to run across the country from San Diego to Saint Simons Island, Georgia.

His journey wasn't done.

Now back in Georgia, Andrus is taking the scenic route, running back to California.

"I just wanted to do it for the adventure, I wanted to do something no one else had done," Andrus said. "It's memory lane, now."

He runs nearly five miles during each stretch. Each time picking up where he left off, he turns finish lines in to new beginnings.

"It's something I like to do, I like to run. What else is there left when you get to my age?" That's what Andrus said when asked why he's lacing his his sneakers back up.

But this feat is about more than the street beneath his feet.

"I was a part of the crew that brought the LST back from the Isle of Crete in the Greek Isles back in 2000-2001, and that ship means a lot," Andrus said. "Even though it was a short time of our life, it was a big time of our lives."

The World War II Navy Veteran is raising money to bring the last remaining Landing Ship Tank (LST) back to Normandy for a Memorial Day ceremony, a dream of his after having lived and worked on one 75 years ago.

Andrus was among the soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day aboard the LST.

He had the same goal during his first trip. With more money to raise, he's back on the trails.

"If a 100 year old man makes it across the United States, maybe the Navy will take notice and help us out," Andrus said.

Each stretch, the famous runner meets new fans and followers as his soles leave their mark.

"He inspires you to do anything that you can do, anything you want to do you can do it," said John Martin.

Martin is a retired firefighter from California, who dropped everything to join Andrus on his journey.

With a flag always in hand, Andrus hopes each mile can leave communities with a message.

"I think it's important that people realize what it took to win WWII, and realize that freedom is not free," Andrus said.

A lifetime of service, taken one step at a time but never slowing down.

Andrus is expecting to cross the finish line on the beaches of San Diego about two weeks after his 100th birthday.

His final two Valdosta runs will be Saturday morning and on Monday, starting each day promptly at 6:30am. Anyone is welcome to join on the stretch, or cheer him on along the way.

You can follow his whole journey on Facebook.