California World War II veteran running cross country passes through Baton Rouge

California World War II veteran running cross country passes through Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Father Time may be taking more of America's Greatest Generation, but there's a lot of life in the legs of World War II veteran Ernie Andrus.

"Even though I'm pretty slow now, I can still get out there and go," said Andrus.

The lifelong adventurer from California is running coast to coast from San Diego to the Atlantic Ocean. Thursday's run in Baton Rouge felt a lifetime away from the 92-year-old's first remarkable journey.

"I was cruising the streets of Los Angeles in my little Model A Roadster," recalled Andrus. "The news came in, 'Pearl Harbor has just been bombed.'  And I turned to my buddy and I said, 'Where's Pearl Harbor,' and he said, 'I don't know, but I think we're at war. let's go join the Navy.'"

At the age of 18, Andrus would serve in the Pacific theater for the duration of the war. Now 70 years later, his second call of duty brings him through the Capital City.

Andrus wants to raise enough money to return a World War II ship currently in Indiana, an LST, to dock at it's original mission. That was Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, 'D-Day.' There's a big problem though, the money just isn't coming in.

"I need big donations and I haven't got any," said Andrus.

But never discouraged, he keeps moving, traveling by himself in an RV, and getting visits from family along the way.

"One daughter just came in yesterday and she says, 'Dad, you're still thinking that life and death situations are exciting," said Andrus.

Andrus runs three days a week. Thursday morning, he ran from north Baton Rouge going south along Airline Hwy. and then turned toward the Cortana Mall.

Andrus completed the nearly 7-mile run in just under two and a half hours. The half-dozen men and women who ran with him were added to his list of over 700 who have run by his side.

"It's been a great opportunity to spread patriotism. I feel good and I like to run. So I just keep running," said Andrus.

Andrus will continue running in Baton Rouge on Saturday. He plans to reach the Atlantic next summer just in time for his 93rd birthday.

To learn more about his journey and how to donate to his cause, visit Andrus' website.

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