'I am walking with heroes’: Grand Strand veteran leads Veterans Victory Walk to Mount Pleasant

Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 7:53 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - About a dozen veterans and supporters left the Myrtle Beach Vet Center early Tuesday morning and headed for Mount Pleasant.

The effort is to raise money for various veteran organizations and to spread awareness of veteran issues.

Organizer Paul Yurkin said he came up with the idea while hiking with his wife.

“My wife and I were walking on the Hulk. And we just got inspired for some reason. By the grace of God. Just really inspired, and said we have got to do something for veterans. We have to. What can we do? So we said, ‘Hey let’s walk somewhere,’” Yurkin said.

He said eight months later and here they are with a team. Escorted by deputies, an RV and van, the walkers started at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Yurkin said they’ll do it relay style, resting and walking when you want to until you walk the 100 miles to Patriots Point.

Rest stops were sponsored about every ten miles with food and drinks in Horry and Georgetown counties.

“I was stationed with these guys at Camp David and they just heard the calling. They all sounded off and they came. It’s been amazing,” Yurkin said of his friends who showed up.

“He asked if I would pack up and come and Pearl was all game, so we packed up and came!” said friend and veteran Elmo Trickett, of West Virginia. “It’s good to bring awareness to veterans and PTSD and to let folks know it’s okay to ask another veteran for help if you’re having trouble with issues. It’s just something that meant a lot to us. It was 29 degrees when we left the house and where else would you rather be than Myrtle Beach.”

The Camp David veterans considered the walk the kick-off to their reunion.

After the walk, they’ll continue catching up, Trickett said.

Fellow veteran Kenn Capper reminisced on Camp David memories from presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

“President Reagan was more reclusive. He would go on horse rides and stuff like that but President Bush did everything. So it was shooting on the skeet range with him, bowling at the bowling alley, going on hikes and runs with him, playing wallyball. It was his favorite game. All these guys all of us would play with the president with all this stuff.”

His favorite memory is with the Bush family on Christmas Eve.

“We knocked on the door Christmas Eve and President Bush, Barbara Bush and the whole family was there. We sang three songs and when it was done – President Bush looked at me and says ‘First sergeant come on in.' So for the next two hours, I was doing Christmas Eve with the Bushes,” Capper said with a smile.

“Speechless. Inspired. Proud to be an American. Proud to be a patriot, proud to be a veteran. I’m no hero, I am walking with heroes,” Yurkin said.

Yurkin said he received an overwhelming amount of support locally for the walk.

The right lane of Highway 17 was used for the walk with escorts.

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