BONIFAY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Running coast to coast is a familiar route for 96-year-old Ernest Andrus.
Ninety-six-year-old World War II veteran is running from Saint Simons Island, Georgia to San Diego, California for the second time. (WJHG/WECP)
"I'd run from the Pacific to the Atlantic and I finished one day after my 93rd birthday," said Andrus.
And now, he's going for round two.
Since March he's been lacing up his running shoes and hitting the pavement, starting in Georgia. We caught up with him in Bonifay.
"This is memory lane, meeting old friends. Two of them that ran with me in the morning also ran with me three and a half years ago, one of them was 12 years old then, now he's 16," said Andrus.
Each day he runs he makes it one step closer to his goal of reaching California.
"I like to run," said Andrus.
But this journey goes beyond his love for running.
Andrus is a World War II Navy veteran. He served on an LST ship, a ship used to land equipment and troops on hostile shores.
Now, the LST 325 is the only one left, and he wants it to have one last mission.
"I'm hoping they'd get enough, make enough money to take it back to Normandy. A few of us guys have been dreaming about that. 'What if we get this over to Normandy for a D-Day Memorial?'" said Andrus.
The ship is now located in Indiana, but Andrus wants to raise enough money to get it to Omaha Beach for a ceremony.
"I talked to our Captain, he said it'll never happen, it takes millions [of dollars] you know. I said, 'I can try,'" said Andrus.
He expects it to take five years for him to run California, by the time he crosses the finish line, he'll be 100. But he sees no problem with that.
"Physically I feel great," said Andrus.
Running across America may seem like an impossible mission for a 96-year-old, but this veteran has seen greater struggles.
Through war, he's given a lot to his country and hopes today's generation is ready to do the same.
"You've got to be ready. Wars are going to come whether you like it or not, I hope you never have to go, but they're gonna come and you better be prepared, and I just hope that they're ready to not let us down," said Andrus.
Next Wednesday, September 25, Andrus will be the guest of honor of a book signing at Mission BBQ in Panama City from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To donate to Andrus' cause, click here.
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