By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Back in November, Carl Wentworth got an idea into his head to walk across America to raise awareness and funds for U.S. service veterans.
Two days later, he was on his way from his home near Boston, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif. with a cart and a “Walking for Heroes” sign. On Friday, eight months later, he stopped in Tucumcari.
Sitting in a waiting room at Tucumcari’s Flying J. truck stop, Wentworth described why he began his journey and explained how he is now on his way to San Diego, not Los Angeles.
While he has never been in the military, Wentworth says, his father was career Army, retiring as a sergeant.
“I served for 17 years as an Army brat,” he joked.
“We’ve got to do more than say thanks to these boys and girls,” Wentworth, 47, said of service members and veterans. “They fight for our freedom. I walk for them.”
The U.S. as a nation, he said, says, “we’re behind veterans all the way,” but when they come home, he said, “No one wants to take care of them. We need to do more.”
In November, those thoughts inspired him to pack up and go spread the word.
During the exceptionally cold, snowy winter for most of the country, Wentworth said, he didn’t get very far. “I spent Christmas in Maryland,” he said, “and much of January in Washington, D.C.”
Snowstorms stranded him in Virginia and North Carolina as he made his way to Georgia before turning west.
Since he started, he said, he has relied on the generosity of people whom he has met on his journey. A few have been inspired by Wentworth’s walk for the veterans that they have taken much of their own time to support him.
One of them is John Vandiver, a disc jockey in Douglas County, Ga., works as Wentworth’s advance representative, making phone calls that result in donated meals and hotel rooms. At the Flying J, Wentworth was waiting for a call from Vandiver. When that call came, Wentworth learned that the Discovery Inn, Tucumcari, would donate a room. K-Bob’s Steak House in Tucumcari provided a meal.
Mickey Miskelley, of Jasper, Alabama, drove 700 miles from Jasper to Oklahoma City to join Wentworth and now serves as his “spotter,” Miskelley said. Wentworth appreciated Miskelley’s presence, he said, when he started to experience pain outside of Tucumcari.
“I was power-walking, 30 to 40 miles a day,” he said, “and I’m not 20 any more.”
Miskelley drove Wentworth to the Discovery Inn from the Flying J.
A sign on Wentworth’s pushcart says he’s going to Los Angeles, but he has changed his mind, he said. He’s pushing on to San Diego.
San Diego, with it’s huge naval base, is likely to be a friendlier place to end the journey than Los Angeles, he said.
Wentworth said he has no idea of how much money his walk has raised for veterans.
“I don’t care if they donate through my website or to any of a number of veterans groups,” he said.
On Wentworth’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/walkingforheroes, he has chronicled the people he has met, those who have helped him, and many veterans he has thanked along the way.
He proudly notes that it has received 6,480 “likes” from visitors.
Persons who would like to make donations to help veterans may click on the “Donate” button on the Walking for Heroes Facebook page.