Charles D. Brunt
Journal Staff Writer
August 28, 2014
Marine veteran Justin Kuhel, who has completed nearly 2,000 miles of his 2,700-mile journey from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Camp Pendleton, Calif., chats with 98-year-old Bataan Death March survivor Ralph Rodriguez on Wednesday at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial. Rodriguez was among about 75 people who welcomed Kuhel to Albuquerque.
(Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
Only 850 miles and about $50,000 to go before Marine veteran Justin Kuhel, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, reaches his goal of walking across America to raise $100,000 for two charities that help veterans.
“I decided a couple of weeks ago that if I don’t reach my ($100,000) goal, I’ll just turn around and walk back until I make it,” Kuhel said Wednesday as he prepared to continue his March Across America.
After visiting with a group of supporters at Tramway and Central – which included a local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers, the New Mexico Patriot Guard Riders and a vintage six-wheel-drive military vehicle known as a Gama Goat – the 26-year-old veteran marched briskly down Central en route to the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial.
Passers-by along Central and Louisiana cheered and honked as Kuhel passed by. He smiled and waved, occasionally handing out pamphlets explaining what he was up to.
Accompanied by a city police escort and a small parade of supporters, the Clintonville, Ohio, native said he left Camp Lejeune, N.C., on May 23 and plans to arrive at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in late September or early October. That’s 2,753 miles, give or take.
When he started at Central and Tramway about noon Wednesday, he had walked 1,923 miles.
“I walk about 23 miles a day,” he said. “The (support van) picks me up at the end of the day, takes me wherever we’re staying, then drops me right back where I left off the next morning.”
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