Ernie Andrus grew up in Kansas, a poor farm boy who survived the great depression, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. These days at age 95, he is running across the U.S. to raise funds for the U.S.S. LST 325 ship memorial. This is the second time he’s running. On his first journey, he ran from the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, CA. on October 7, 2013 and reached the Atlantic Ocean, Saint Simons Island, GA. on August 20, 2016.
During the war Andrus served on a landing ship tank (LST). The LSTs were used to land equipment and troops on hostel shores. One thousand fifty-one LSTs were built during World War II, with none left operational after the war. Andrus and others felt it important to preserve the history and have an LST in the U.S. to show what it took to win the war. One of his former shipmates found one on the Isle of Crete in the Greek Islands. After months of hard work and red tape, they accomplished the impossible and sailed the ship back to the United States on its own power. Currently the LST 325 is open for tours in Evansville, IN. https://lstmemorial.org/ . Andrus would like to bring the ship back to Normandy.
“I was one of the crew that brought the ship back from the Isle. of Crete, Greece to the U.S. in 2000/2001” said Andrus.
Currently he is running from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and passing through Walton County. Andrus started this run on March 16, 2019. Running an average of 13 miles per week, it will take him five years to reach the Pacific coast.
“I’ll be 100 years old when I finish. If for any reason I can’t finish a run I’ll go back and run it at another time,” said Andrus.
Learn more about the history of LST 325 here.