96-year-old World War II veteran on second coast-to-coast run

World War II Navy Veteran Ernest Andrus, 96, is running coast to coast for a second time.
96-year-old World War II veteran on second coast-to-coast run
Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 10:39 AM CDT
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JASPER COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - World War II Navy Veteran Ernest Andrus, 96, is running coast to coast.

“I’ll be going slow, but it is my running pace,” Andrus said.

The saying goes “slow and steady wins the race,” and for Andrus, it’s a special journey for him running coast to coast for the second time.

“I finished my first coast-to-coast run one day after my 93rd birthday, and it was so much fun that after two years running in the same area, I said, ‘I’m going get back out on the highway and run back the other way,’” he said.

For this trip, Mr. Ernie, as he’s known by, started in Georgia last March and plans to finish in California. It’s the same route as his first trip but in reverse this time around. Escorted by DPS troopers, he arrived in Jasper Saturday.

“I love Jasper,” Andrus said.

Many from East Texas and as a far away as Mississippi and Louisiana joined and cheered him on. Community leaders held a breakfast for him, and several community members attended a book signing at Lowe’s.

“I always say the more the runners the more the fun,” Andrus said. “I just like to have people show up. I always like to run, and I really enjoy getting out and going running.”

But he will tell you this mission has a bigger meaning than his passion for running. When Mr. Ernie ran relays a few years ago, he got an idea.

“I got so much attention, I thought ‘hey if an 88 year old in a relay gets that much attention, how about a 90 year-old running coast to coast? Maybe I can raise some money for our ship.' I have this ship. We brought it back from Greece it is the LST 325.”

Andrus served as a Navy Corpsman. He joined after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While island hopping during the Pacific Theater, he was on an LST (124), a ship that landed equipment and troops on hostel shores. The USS LST 325 is the only ship of its kind left. It landed troops at Normandy.

“The dream is to get enough money take the ship back to Normandy for a D-Day Memorial,” he said.

Mr. Ernie says he was told it will take millions to get the USS LST 325 operational to leave its home port in Indiana and return to France. He raised $40,000 on the first trip. In the meantime, he runs less than four miles each Monday, Thursday and Saturday to help raise support for his cause.

“I may not live long enough to make it because I’ll be 100 years old when I reach the Pacific, but I go as far as I can,” he said.

On a mission continuing to save, protect and defend, once again.

To donate to Mr. Ernie’s cause, the LST Ship Memorial, click here.

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