Vietnam Vet Plans Walk Across America
A 2,950-mile walk across country would be a daunting proposition for anyone, but for a 75-year old Vietnam Veteran? "No problem,” says Ray Agnew.
Agnew, a resident of Fort Myers, is tackling that challenge March 1st, when he disembarks on foot from Jacksonville, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. "This paper I have here, says it’s 2,950 miles, but I think it’s longer,” he said. "I don’t care if it takes me six months, I’m going to do it.”
He plans to make the cross country hike to raise money and awareness for the Disabled Veterans of America, DAV.org. A veteran of the Vietnam War, he’s seen firsthandthe ravages of war. "I was inducted into the Army in November 1962,” said Agnew. He was raised in a rural, Southern Indiana town, where he graduated high school in 1957,and then lived in Indianapolis before moving to Florida. "I lived in Jacksonville for a while, but I don’t remember much about it. I served in the U.S. Army for one year and went to Vietnam. I saw some terrible things.”
A good friend approached him with the idea of walking across country and wanted to do it with him, but Agnew said his friend couldn’t retire for five more years. "I’m a young 75,” he says, "and I walk 8-10 miles per day, seven days a week, but I’m not getting any younger. I couldn’t wait five years. I’ve got to do this now, while I still can.”
Agnew says he’s been training for this trek for four years. He’s bought several pairs of shoes from Rack Room Shoes at Tanger Outlets on Summerlin Road and is currently in talks with them about a sponsorship. "I’ve never done this before,” he said. "Gotten a sponsor to do something like this, but I’ll do it whether they sponsor me or not.” He was meeting with representatives from the shoe company on Wednesday.
"I went to Wal-Mart to buy one of those pull-behind carts, the kind you attach to a bike for a baby,” explained Agnew. "I decided I needed a cart with brakes since I’ll be walking through mountains, so I ordered one.” He plans to carry essentials, like water, in the cart.
"I’ve been training for four years, but it’s easy down here,” he said of walking in southwest Florida. "There are no hills. I’ve had friends offer to help me, to walk with me, but I want to do this myself.”
"This is the last thing I can do for my country before I go.”
The Vietnam Vet has done plenty for his country, but his sense of national pride drives him forward, even at "a young 75.” He’s been an active volunteer with all of the local veterans agencies.
Agnew plans to open an account at his bank in the next couple of weeks in order to receive pledges and donations. Once that is done, the Island Sand Paper will let readers know where and how to get behind this patriotic effort.
For 92 years, the Disabled American Veterans organization has empowered veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. Agnew’s vow to walk across America is aimed at raising awareness and funds to further their efforts. At DAV.org, the veterans organization helps veterans and their families access the full range of benefits available to them, fights for their rights on Capitol Hill and educates the public on the great needs of veterans as they transition back to civilian life.
The Island Sand Paper wishes Ray Agnew the best and proudly supports veterans from all walks of life who have proudly served our country.