Ernie Andrus, now and then. (Source: warhistoryonline.com)
Ernie Andrus visits with CBS 5 News on Sunday. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Andrus is on a coast-to-coast run that will take him about three more years. (Source: Facebook)
He began his mission on Oct. 7 near San Diego. (Source: Facebook)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
A 90-year-old World War II veteran sets off Monday on the Phoenix leg of his coast-to-coast run to raise funds for a landmark ship memorial.
Ernie Andrus started embarking on his mission on Oct. 7 near San Diego. He said he plans to reach the Atlantic in another three years or so.
"I run my first half marathon when I was 87. I run my second one when I was 89," said Andrus.
He didn't start running for recreation until after he retired at 64 years old.
Monday's 7 1/2-mile trek that starts at 6:30 a.m. will take him from R.H. Johnson Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Sun City to Del Web Boulevard and Grand.
On his cross-country trip, Andrus runs three days a week, about 7 1/2 miles a day.
"Found out the oldest guy who's ever done it was in his 70's. I thought, well, I'll be the first 90 year old man to do it," Andrus said.
He's doing it to raise money for the LST 325 Ship Memorial, Inc. He was one of the crew that brought the tank landing ship back from the Isle of Crete, Greece, to the U.S. in 2000-2001.
The organization wants to return the Navy vessel to Normandy in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Andrus said 1,051 LSTs were built during World War II. It participated in the invasion of Sicily, Salerno and Normandy. During the Normandy invasion, it made 40 roundtrips between England and France carrying troops, supplies and wounded.
The LST 325 is the only one left that has been restored and is still operational.
He said he welcomes any runners who would like to join him on any leg of his ambitious journey.
On running days he leaves his motor home early without eating breakfast, powered only by a cup of coffee.
Getting back to his home on wheels each day isn't ever a problem.
"I know I can stick out my thumb and the first person to come by will give me a ride. They won't pass up this old man out there, you know," said Andrus.
People wishing to sponsor him can send contributions payable to "Coast to Coast Runs" at 304 Brooklawn Dr., Banning, CA 92220.
Andrus turns 91 in August and hopes to touch the Atlantic Ocean in Brunswick, Georgia before he turns 94.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Thursday, July 31 2014 9:55 AM EDT2014-07-31 13:55:20 GMT
It's been nearly a week since Jennifer Huston, 38, of Dundee vanished after running errands in Newberg Thursday evening, and ever since she disappeared the search for her has been growing.More >
It's been nearly a week since Jennifer Huston, 38, of Dundee vanished after running errands in Newberg Thursday evening, and ever since, the search for her has been growing to include more people and more methods of searching - including a drone.More >
Friday, August 1 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:31:40 GMT
Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington saw more than 800 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service said. The lightning created some problemsMore >
Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington saw more than 800 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes between midnight and 5 a.m. Friday, the National Weather Service said.More >
Thursday, July 31 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:57:19 GMT
As the town of Dundee and countless different law enforcement agencies continue in their search for Jennifer Huston, a local PI is weighing in on the case with his own theories.More >
As the town of Dundee and countless different law enforcement agencies continue in their search for Jennifer Huston, a local PI is weighing in on the case with his own theories about what happened to the mother.More >