The Marines have landed.
By Don Weber
On Dec. 17, 2022, three Marines arrived at the beach in Newport, Ore., after walking on Hwy 20 the 3,365 miles from Boston. Retired Sgt. Maj. Coleman “Rocky” Kinzer, Retired Sgt. Maj. Justin “J.D.” LeHew and prior Marine Ray Shinoshara walked the longest road in the United States to raise awareness for servicemembers missing in action. They began their journey on June 6, 2022, the anniversary of D-Day. The team called their trip The Long Road (TLR).
Dick Tobiason from the American Legion Department of Oregon worked over five years to name Hwy 20 as the Medal of Honor Highway in all 12 states. In addition, many states created memorials for the MOH recipients from each respective state.
When TLR arrived in Oregon, Dan Burk, department second vice commander, linked up with American Legion National Security Director Mario Marquez and American Legion Auxiliary National President Vickie Koutz at the Ontario-Oregon border. Burk continued to coordinate posts in eastern and central Oregon to provide lodging, meals and resources on the trip.
Once they passed the Cascade Mountain Range, Dale Jenkins, District 3 commander, picked up the coordination. Dale commented on how exhilarating it was to work on this project. When they arrived in Newport, Post 116 coordinated a community event to greet them. Members of the community walked with them the last mile. The U.S. Coast Guard provided a color guard leading to the beach. Post 116 lined the road with U.S. flags to greet them. One community member etched a logo in the sand that was so large, you could only see the whole thing from a high-point overlook. At the overlook Dean Sawyer, mayor of Newport, said “History Flight will scour the world to find MIAs.”
On Sunday Post 116 coordinated a spaghetti dinner at the Newport Armory where they prepared 450 meals for the community. At the dinner, Wanda Janes announced a post goal to present the team with a dollar for every mile they walked. They exceeded the goal and presented TLR with $3,465.
At the dinner, J.D. talked about working to recover MIAs. One of his first recoveries was a Marine at Tarawa Island who died on Nov. 20, 1943. This Marine served in the same position J.D. later served in. During the walk they “went through 10 pairs of boots,” he said.
You can find more information on their trip on Facebook under “The Long Road.”