This 85-Year-Old Army Veteran Walks More Than 15 Miles Every Day

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Willie McCain volunteers with wear blue: run to remember at the 2018 Fort Bragg All American Marathon (Joe Nicholson/wear blue: run to remember)
Willie McCain volunteers with wear blue: run to remember at the 2018 Fort Bragg All American Marathon (Joe Nicholson/wear blue: run to remember)

Retired Sgt. Maj. Willie McCain is fired up, motivated, dedicated. At age 85, he's as driven as he was while he served in the Army more than 50 years ago.

The career soldier is out walking every day -- even with the help of a cane -- for three to four hours a day, McCain told Scott Mason, a reporter for WRAL. He told the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina, that he still logs up to 15 miles a day and sometimes 100 miles in a week.

Although his motivations might have changed, he's still out there, walking the streets of Fayetteville.

During the 1970s, McCain was inspired by President Jimmy Carter's "Run For Your Life" program, where soldiers could log and track every mile they ran and receive patches for achieving milestones.

The military gave him everything, he said.

"I never had a job before," McCain told Mason.

Running and exercising were integral parts of his Army career.

"1977, and I've been doing it ever since," McCain said. "And I love it."

He also volunteers today with the organization wear blue: run to remember, which uses running and walking to honor fallen troops and their families.

Joining the Army straight out of high school, McCain was stationed at nearby Fort Bragg when Carter, an avid runner, implemented the military running program.

In his Army days, he used running as physical training and to "motivate" soldiers on base.

"You got to set an example for yourself, and you got to demonstrate," McCain told the reporter of his 30-year Army career. "Any person who was in that battalion or command that they had trouble with, they brought them out to me. They couldn't figure out, 'What is he doing to help these people?'"

These days, McCain has other motivations besides exercise. They include fried fish, collard greens and nine-layer chocolate cake. At his age, walking 15 miles a day means he can eat almost anything he wants, he told WRAL.

McCain said exercising is the best thing that can happen to a person, other than banana pudding.

-- Blake Stilwell is 38 and is also motivated by fried fish. He can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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