“My goal is to walk to the capitol steps of all 50 states,” said Leonard Dale “Mac” McQuown, a 52-year-old U.S. Army reservist and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served from 1980-1988.
McQuown began his trek on Sept. 11, 2011 from Stafford, Va.
“I want to bring an overdue and well-deserved light upon all veterans, young and old, male and female, from both past and current conflicts,” he said. “I also want to keep in our prayers and bring awareness to all veterans who have ever been or currently are a prisoner of war or missing in action.”
McQuown walks an average of 10-15 miles per day while pulling a 60-pound cart with supplies and gear such as food, water, clothing, tools, sleeping bag, two-man tent and first aid supplies.
“I have been to 10 states so far—Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama,” he said.
McQuown said he takes Sundays off and rests as needed. He visits Ocala, Fla., for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but walks the rest of the year.
“I walk in tan combat boots that I decorate in memory of a fallen hero,” he said. “Step Into Their Boots was one of my sponsors, but I’m now looking for a new boot sponsor to provide new tan combat boots.”
McQuown said he personalizes the boots to make them unique to the fallen hero he is honoring.
“Once they are worn out, I ship them to that veteran’s family,” he said. “I’ve gone through six pairs of boots so far.”
McQuown said as of Monday, he walked 2,190 miles of the approximately 15,000-mile trip.
“I estimate it will take me about six years to complete it,” he said.
McQuown said he tries to find the shortest route between state capitals.
“Once I reach San Diego, there is a travel agency sponsor who will pay for a cruise to Hawaii and back,” he said. “I plan to walk onboard the ship while it is underway. When I get back, I plan to walk up the west coast and from Washington take another cruise, courtesy of the same travel agency, to Alaska and back.”
McQuown said he then plans to serpentine across the country.
“The idea is to be in the south when it’s winter and in the north when it’s summer,” he said.
McQuown said he typically sleeps in fire stations, including Fire Station #1 in Pell City Monday night, or sometimes motel rooms paid for by friends.
“Each day, I get on Facebook and do a Pledge of Allegiance,” he said. “I dedicate that day to a fallen or wounded hero. I tell people where I’m going that day, and when my walk is over, I announce that I’m safe and sound and post videos and blogs about the journey.”
McQuown said he walks rain or shine, except for lightning or other severe weather.
“Alabama has been great,” he said. “Everyone has been very welcoming and willing to help out.”
McQuown said anyone interested in following his journey can visit www.operationwalkamerica.org. The site has links to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.