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Military veteran Chuck Lewis walks across America to raise money for wounded and disabled vets
Marine and Navy Reserve veteran Chuck Lewis began a 3,300-mile journey across the United States March 31, 2013, to raise money for wounded and disabled veterans. Lewis set up camp June 13, 2013, near Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley Nicole Taylor)
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Military Vet Walking Across America to Raise Money for Fellow Veterans

Posted 6/27/2013   Updated 6/27/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Ashley Nicole Taylor
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/27/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  -- One step at a time.

That's what military veteran Sgt. Chuck Lewis thinks about as he's making his way coast across the United States, 3,300 miles coast-to-coast, to raise money for wounded and disabled veterans.

Lewis, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Marine Corps from 1970 to 1974 and in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1980 to 1988, wants to raise $50,000. The Ronan, Mont., native began his journey in Washington State March 31. On June 13, he camped near Grand Forks Air Force Base, about one third of the way across the country.

He'll complete his long walk at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. later this fall. He also hopes to stop at the Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago.

"I don't know all that is in the museum, but they have 58,479 sets of dog tags hanging on the ceiling and are pre-stamped and arranged in the same order that you'd find on the wall in D.C.," he said.

Lewis isn't hard to spot on the road. He pushes a 150-pound cart packed with his supplies and adorned with a large American flag.

"I have black shorts and black sweatpants, about four changes of underwear, a sweatshirt, rain jacket, rain hat and rain pants," said Lewis. "I'm carrying with me a sleeping bag, pad, tent, and my laptop when I'm lucky enough to have internet access, and I also have a single burner stove with a variety of freeze-dried foods. To charge my phone, I have a solar panel."

Perhaps the coolest gadget on his cart is an electronic GPS device that updates his position every 10 minutes, allowing people to track his progress on his website.

His feet are his most valuable asset, making a good pair of shoes a must.

"I actually just retired my first set (of shoes) in Devil's Lake because they had a hole almost all the way through the soles," Lewis said. "I try to get my money's worth out of them. This is my second pair, and I have another spare set as well."

Physical fitness played an important role in Lewis' military career. He has run many races, some up to 100 miles long in his post-military life, but training for a walk across the country wasn't easy.

"I can tell you how to train for a 100-mile run, but I really don't know how you train for a 3,300-mile walk," Lewis said. "I haven't figured it out, but the best thing I can say is that I'm treating it like 3,300 one-mile walks."

The public and the military have responded very well to Lewis' undertaking, and have supported him every step along the way.

"I've been very well supported by the Air Force; I was at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., then Minot, N.D., and now Grand Forks," Lewis said. "The Air Force is really taking care of me as far as bringing attention to this effort."

Lewis looks forward to a hot meal and a hot shower every evening, but left with encouraging words before he set up camp for the evening at Turtle River State Park.

"I'd like to tell the veterans and today's warriors that I'm proud of them all and I thank them for their service," Lewis said. "From my point of view, there is a one-percent group that really takes care of our country, and that's our military. The young men and women who serve today, they're awesome. They're the ones who care enough about our country to actually put their life on the line for it. You can't say that about too many other groups. I admire you, and in Marine Corps terms, Semper Fi, Ooo-rahh!"

For more information and to follow Lewis on his journey across the country, visit

6/28/2013 1:25:18 AM ET
I sure would like to walk a mile in his shoes. It sounds like when the rubber meets the road he is ready to go. Great cause and he proves all it takes is a good attitude and a reliable pair of sneakers. Ooo-rahh Chuck ooo-rahh ...
Running Randall, Manhattan Kansas
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