Russian World War Two veteran Nikolai Bagayev feels like he has cheated death twice.
WWII Vet Runs Cross Country to Save His D-Day Ship
Ernie Andrus, now in his 90's, is running cross-country to raise money in order to put the LST 325, the ship he served on in the Navy during WWII, back on the beach in Normandy where it supported the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
This LST 325 is the only LST ship left (out of 1,051 made) that has been fully restored and still operational. Plans were initially made for a D-Day memorial service in 2014 for the ship, but it was canceled because of a shortage of finances. This inspired Ernie to start a project called, Coast2Coast Runs to raise money to honor his old ship.
"I heard about other guys running coast to coast, " he reflected, " I looked it up on the web and nobody 90 years old has ever done it. So I think I'll do it!"
It's not a surprise that Ernie is not a person easily deterred from a challenge. As a youngster, Ernie was rejected several times when he tried to enlist in the Navy due to a lazy left eye. Ernie was anything but lazy in his efforts to serve. He went to multiple recruitment offices, and waited so long at one that he was able to memorize the eye chart and pass the exam!
Now he is once again putting himself to the test. Ernie completed his first coast to coast run from San Diego , California to Saint Simons Island, Georgia one day after his 93rd birthday in 2016. Now 95, he is off again, this time running from east to west, stirring memories of his shipmates and their craft, LST 325.
We honor all our WWII Vets, those who have past and those who are keeping their memory alive. Go Ernie!
You can follow Ernie's progress at: https://coast2coastruns.com/
** OGTV would like to take a moment to commemorate Armed Forces Day with a story about the unstoppable Ernie Andrus who is still on his latest Coast2Coast run doing his part to keep the memory of his comrades alive. **