MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
With an American flag carried prideful across his shoulder, a slender 68-year-old Vietnam-era veteran walked alongside Camp Pendleton’s traffic to embark on his journey of walking across the nation by Sept. 11, 2011.
Anthony A. LoBue, better known as “Tony the Vet,” began his pilgrimage to New York’s Ground Zero to show support and honor people who have served their country.
Tony, who served in the army and Texas National Guard from 1964-1969, plans to walk ten miles a day, totaling approximately 3,500 miles, by way of a specific route to meet veterans in various military communities along the way.
Tony has been walking since Sept. 11, and has also been taking care of personal affairs and meeting with supporters before leaving the southern California region. On Oct. 6, he left the area continued to New York.
“There are an infinite variety of potential problems, but I’ve got my mission in mind,” said Tony. “I must, and will make it to New York.”
Tony has been telling his story everywhere he goes and is open to others joining him on his adventure. As of now, he has not decided what he will do when he arrives in New York, however, he is optimistic that upon arrival his supporters may throw a parade in honor of the service members and to celebrate the finish of his trip.
Another major portion of the walkathon is to raise money for Supporting Our Veterans Association, a non-profit group that helps veterans. The organization will ultimately give back to the veterans, said Tony.
“(Supporting Our Veterans Association) is not designed to compete or conflict with any other veteran program out there,” said Tony as he began his walk. “Its mission is to enhance existing programs. I’m walking across the nation to meet veterans and find out their needs, wants and problems, so I can help find a solution and relay this information to SOVA.”
Along with getting to know veterans and their needs, Tony is adding a petition to his website that will allow anyone to sign.
“The petition is a list of things that veterans have told me they wish they had,” said Tony. “As a veteran, you once signed a contract giving a period of your life to the government to serve this nation. It’s only right that you are taken care of.”
Tony has designed his Tony the Vet organization to help put a face on all veterans. Tony said “a veteran is a veteran,” meaning regardless of the type of service, whether combat or garrison, a veteran still served the country and should be treated as such.
“Tony has a genuine care for the veterans and making sure they are taken care of,” said Robert F. Satterfield, a retired Navy chaplain and supporter of Tony. “He has dedicated himself to them and is doing everything he can to support them.”
For more information about Tony, or to show your support, visit www.tonythevet.org.