CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - He carries a heavy load, but for former U.S. marine Eddie Gray, nothing is too heavy to stop him from completing his mission.
"I want to make sure our vets are taken care of," Gray said.
He's helping take care of those vets by encouraging support for veterans' rights, healthcare and benefits. But it's the way he's doing it that's opening eyes all over.
Lee Perkins, member of the Marine Corps League in Southwest Louisiana, opened his home to Gray during his stay in Lake Charles.
"What he's doing is extraordinary," said Perkins. "Five years on the road and over 5,000 miles and he's got 5-or-6,000 more miles to go."
Gray started a walk around America, visiting the perimeter of the United States all on foot. As he made a pit stop in Southwest Louisiana, local marines and supporters gathered around the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office to get him ready for the long walk ahead.
I served my country," said Gray. "I was in service and I want to service and I want to serve the vets now and do the best I can for them."
Carrying over 80 lbs. worth of necessities on his back like food and water, supporters got to try on Gray's load to honor his walk.
Local marine Jack Gamble also showed us what else marines are required to carry and demonstrated "the fireman's carry."
"I wish I could do this for Eddie," said Gamble. "For the 5,000 he's already put down for us."
As the sun went down, it was time for Gray to get on his way. Escorted by police and supporters by his side, Gray is honoring the vets the entire way.
"Serving is the best I could do," he said.
He's doing it one step at a time.