Man trekking across country for veterans
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 25, 2015
Sgt. Mac McQuown is on an adventure.
Geared with a three-wheeled jogging stroller and a large American flag waiving in the wind, McQuown, 54, is making his way from Daytona, Fla. to San Francisco collecting veterans stories for a book that he’s writing.
McQuown served in the U.S. Army reserves and the Marine Corps from 1980-1988 during the peace time.
He started his travels on May 4, 2015.
“I’m walking to the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge,” McQuown said. “What I’m doing is for every veteran that I meet, I’ll get their story, whenever they served. I’ll combine these stories into a book, and then when I sell the book, all of the proceeds will go to helping the veterans.”
The idea to write the book came to McQuown when he noticed how less the national media highlighted stories on veterans.
“A good example is Bruce Jenner becoming a woman,” he said. “They’re still talking about that. It’s been weeks. How many veterans have died during that time, or how many have become homeless in that time? You never hear about this.
“I thought if I could do this, and even give a small voice to our veterans, then I could do something to help,” he said.
Most of what he has brought with him is donated, including the stroller. On a normal night, he’ll pitch a four-man tent.
McQuown arrived in Andalusia on Wednesday and left early this morning. He stayed in the Holiday Inn Express because the general manager, Kim Jenkins, comped a room for him.
“Ninety percent of the time, I’m camping out, but it was Holiday Inn Express General Manager Kim Jenkins; she spotted me and saw the flag and approached me,” he said. “It turns out her son, who was a Marine, was killed. To make a long story short, she said if you can get to the Holiday Inn, I’ll comp you a night. So, I was like ‘yeah, of course.’”
McQuown said he’s had to battle a lot, whether it be the weather or long stretches of being alone.
“I’m learning that this is as much mental as it is physical for me,” he said. “Sometimes, I’ll walk for a couple days and not speak to a soul.
“I’m talking to trees now, or horses,” he quipped.
One day, McQuown said he got a phone call from an Army veteran, Travis Mills, who lost all of his limbs to an improvised explosive device (IED).
“Travis survived,” he said. “On the days that I feel tired, wore out, and hot and just beat up, I think about this kid. Every day he wakes up, he’s got to put his body parts back on.
“I think to myself that I got nothing to complain about,” he said. “You can steal my buggy and everything I own. I can still stand up and walk away. He can’t do that. I’ve got nothing to complain about.”
The route he is taking right now is primarily on Hwy. 84. He said he’s going to go through Dallas then hit Albuquerque, N.M. and then cross over into California.
McQuown said he’s taking his time to get to San Francisco.
“I think it’ll take about a year,” he said. “I did some research. People have done walks like this in five or six months — whether it be for cancer or a cause — but they’re doing 25-30 miles a day.
“I’m just taking my time,” he said. “This is as much of an adventure for me as it is a cause. If it takes me three years, so be it. I’m just going to take it all in. I’m going to meet people and enjoy the scenery. I love the adventure of it.”
Veterans who would like to share their stories about their time in the military, can email McQuown at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Facebook page at Salutes and Stories.