Terry Mahoney, an Operation Desert Storm Veteran, will hike 95 miles to raise money for the Sentinels of Freedom on June 22. The three-day hike will start in Saluda, Va. -- the birthplace of Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller -- and end at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va.
Though not a sentinel himself, the former Marine, said he can relate to the Sentinels' mission to provide scholarships and other opportunities for veterans.
"There are lots of veterans sitting in wheelchairs that were ready to take on the world for their countries, and now they need our help," said Mahoney. "As a service disabled veteran myself, I know that the Veteran's Administration can't provide all of the needed resources for veterans. Sentinels of Freedom is a dynamic organization that helps severely wounded vets transform themselves into successful leaders."
The goal of "Walking for Those Who Can't" is to raise $60,000 -- the amount needed for one life scholarship. The project will receive $6,000 in seed money from the Ed Mahoney Scholarship Foundation, named after Mahoney's father.
This is the third in a series of training hikes that Mahoney and his four-year-old German Shepherd, Karlos, will do in preparation for a six-day, 185-mile trek along the C&O Canal Tow this November. Mahoney also plans a hike of the Antietam Battle in September and the Four State Challenge in October. The latter trek involves hiking the Appalachian Trail from Pennsylvania to Virginia, a distance of about 45 mountainous miles, in just one day.
"All of these trials will serve to publicize the November event, and hopefully appeal to people with different interests," he said.
This week's hike, which will bring him to the WWII veteran's birthplace, has special significance to Mahoney.
"Puller, a WWII veteran, was the most decorated and beloved Marine in the history of the Corps. Chesty was a mustang, an officer who rose from the ranks. He preferred the company of Sergeants to officers, and expected and received nothing less than absolute dedication from his men," Mahoney said. "If he told them they were going to have to make an assault on hell, they knew he would be right up front, giving the Devil a black eye."
The hike will also honor Lt. Lewis Puller, Jr., a Vietnam War hero who lost both of his legs and parts of both hands as a result of a land mine.
"His sacrifice for his nation is similar to the kind of sacrifice potential Sentinels of Freedom have made. His Pulitzer Prize winning biography 'Fortunate Son' serves as an inspiration to me, and it is with pride and respect that I dedicate this hike to him," Mahoney said.
Mahoney battled strong winds and thunderstorms to complete his first hike April 28, when he walked over 50 miles from Emmitsburg, Md. to downtown Baltimore. His second hike, on June 14 was an 18-mile trek through the key points of the Battle of Baltimore.