|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Marine supports veterans causes by walking
POINT BLANK – An inactive duty Marine, who is walking the entire country's perimeter to honor and support veterans across the nation, was in San Jacinto County last week. Eddie Gray, 38, visited with San Jacinto County Sheriff David Clark in Oakhurst and later with Precinct 4 Constable Alvin Wyatt before leaving on foot for Onalaska where he was scheduled to visit with some veterans before continuing his journey which started five years ago in Montana. So far he's walked through Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and now Texas. Gray said he will go through Louisiana and make his way along the Gulf Coast to Jacksonville, Florida where he will turn north. Last month he was in Bryan- College Station and Huntsville before making his way here. "I know what I am doing is extreme but I respect all veterans and troops because they are sacrificing something for this country. This is my sacrifice for them," Gray said. Gray was medically discharged in late 2000 after a car wreck that broke his sternum. The Montana native said he came close to death several times after the accident. He required major surgery as well as therapy as he watched friends get sent off to battle, several of whom died in Iraq and Afghanistan. "They call it survivor's guilt," he said. "I should be there. It bothers me a lot." On his trip, Gray carries a 100-pound pack that's equipped with water, food, clothes, weapons and other essentials. Traveling mostly at night and sleeping during the day, Gray said he has been sideswiped by passing cars at least six times and has endured three knee surgeries because of the toll the walk has taken on his body. He said he has never wanted to quit. "The first few weeks you get a little bit of that feeling, but I don't have a quitting bone in my body he said. Gray said his diet consists of canned tuna, Spam, Vienna sausages and dry cereal. He is able to restock his pack because of donor support along the trip. While he was visiting Oakhurst he was treated to a bath and food at local church before getting back on Hwy. 190 at Point Blank with the help of Constable Wyatt. "I was very impressed with Gray," Wyatt said. "What he is doing is tremendous." Gray left his hometown of Ashland, Montana in April 2008, beginning his 12,000- mile walk around the continental U.S. "I just want to shine a light on the hurdles returning service members must surmount to get adequate medical treatment," he said. "Most of the people I've met are genuinely good. And knowing how good people are helps me stick with the walk," Gray said. He expects to finish his walk in Billings, Montana, where he hopes to be greeted by Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger.