Monthly Archives: May 2012

Calhoun KOA – Aaron and Mary Ann Walkover

Sometimes people  go above and beyond and would like to say that through my travels I’ve found that to be the case more often than not.  It was especially true with Mr. Aaron and Mrs. Mary Ann Walkover, owners of the Calhoun, GA KOA Kampground.


OHT has been very fortunate to be able to stay at KOA’s during my TREK, from my longtime and great friends ,Dan and Linda Scott at the KOA in Fountain, CO near Fort Carson, to Jan and Larry Hirt at the Hot Springs, AR KOA and last but not least Arron and Mary Ann in Cahloun, GA.  They all rolled out the ‘red carpet’ and if you are ever in any of these areas, I would not hesitate to recommend a stay at any of them.  You will be treated right, that’s for sure.

The Walkovers run a first class place there in Calhoun.  It was my honor and pleasure to stay there and get to know them.

As OHT winds down and 2/9 begins arriving, I’ll be posting again with pics!

Thanks to you all,


The Shadow Stands Tall


Well, it’s been a long time since I posted on the OHT website.  My bad.  These past few weeks have been eventful, but in a good way.

Time for a bit of reflection and trust me, more will come after completion and of course you won’t be able to escape the pics of the journey.

It seems like eons ago when I started this TREK.  So many places that I visited along the way and met so many wonderful people.  From the start from Lodo’s Highlands Ranch parking lot in Colorado, to the Air Force Academy, to all the KOA Kampgrounds along the way, to Lamar, Lajunta Colorado, to Dodge City, KS, to Oklahoma and the Gold Star Allbaugh family (LCpl Jeremy Allbaugh) to Texas to visit and stay a bit with my parents, to another Gold Star family, Ms. Diane and John Salyers (SSG Justin Estes), to Arkansas and the Hirt family (Son is a Capt in the Army), to the amazing Gold family in Tennessee, to Alabama where I spent my birthday with some amazing new friends at the Brick House Sports Bar, to the KOA in Calhoun, GA where I was very fortunate to meet Aaron and Mary Ann Walkover, owners and WWII USMC veteran and Iwo and Guam survivor Mr. Al Cadenhead, to my wonderful friends in near Atlanta, Joe and Sam (and Barley), to Mike and Laura Johnson…the list goes on and will continue and if I did not mention your name, I apologize but I will next posting ….and of course there are the details that make this true adventure a real life story.

I did find out something I already knew, that America is honestly the Greatest place in the world and it’s her people make it and keep it that way.

My TREK is almost over but the story will last a lifetime and more!  I thank you all for being a big part of it.  Every step I took, you all have been right there with me in spirit.

Thanks again to you all, and as a good friend of mine ALWAYS says as his morning radio show ends, “Please remember our troops!”  Not just today, but everyday!

Until next posting (at the conclusion of OHT)!

My very best,

Forrest a.k.a. Mike

Enter to win a legendary USMC KA-BAR knife

Enter to win! Operation: Hero Trek is giving away a legendry KA-BAR USMC knife generously donated by Sgt Grit and!

All you have to do is make a contribution of $25.00 or more to any of the four non-profit organizations OHT is benefitting. You get one entry for each $25.00 you contribute between now and Friday night at midnight MDT ($25 = 1 entry, $50 = 2 entries, $75 = 3 entries, etc). A winner will be chosen at random and announced Saturday morning.

Note: All donations of $25 or more received from the start of OHT to Friday midnight will be considered eligible to win this knife.  Future giveaways will be only for new contributions.

See the image for a look at this beautiful knife and then head over to our donate page to contribute and get entered in the contest!

Alton Cardenhead USMC World War II vet honored by peers

Alton Cadenhead was just 19 when he left his home in Troupe County to join the Marines. Now, close to 70 years later, he is sharing his experience with both veterans and young soldiers preparing to fight.
“I learned an awful lot in the Marines,” he said. “I learned about discipline and self control, fear and limitations.”
Cadenhead, 87, now resides in Calhoun with his wife of nearly 69 years, Ila Cadenhead.
The veteran was honored Monday at a special ceremony held at the Pacific War Reunion of Honor at WinShape Re-treat center.
Cadenhead, along with two deceased soldiers, were recognized for their efforts in the Pacific during World War II.
“It was a surprise,” he said. “Just being mentioned was an honor. I didn’t expect it.”
Cadenhead first enlisted into the Marines in June of 1943, he served for two years, spending time in both Guam and Iwo Jima as a rifleman.
But it is the time he has spent speaking to fellow veterans, students and young soldiers that garnered him the recognition of his fellow veterans.
“He means a lot to the veterans and has been an inspirational person,” said Bruce Behner who organized the reunion held over a three-day period in Rome.
Cadenhead’s son, Al Cadenhead, said hardly a week goes by that his father is not speaking to one group or another about his time in the Pacific.
“The Marine Corp still asks him to talk about what it is like to be in combat to young soldiers preparing to leave for Afghanistan,” Al Cadenhead said.
He says his father’s ability to share his experience has been cathartic and has helped paint an accurate picture of what World War II soldiers went through.
“There is a need for him to tell the story, for him to talk about his experience,” he said.
Two deceased service members were also recognized. Wil-liam R. Caddy, a young 19-year-old solider from Boston was recognized. Caddy posthumously received the Medal of Honor after he was killed by a hand grenade.
Sgt. Major Ott Farris who died last fall, was also honored. Farris was a career Marine who had been the sergeant of Caddy when the young man was killed in Korea.
“Caddy actually died in his arms,” said Behner.
Read more: Calhoun Times – Calhoun World War II vet honored by peers

Coolidge Woodard

As told by Mary Randolph:

I was inducted into the army July 1943. I was sent to Camp Abbott Oregon to take Combat and Engineers training.  I was shipped overseas shortly after that from Camp Stoneman California  “As I stood on deck and watched the mountains get dim and finally vanish, I wondered if I would ever see them again.  I really didn’t think I would. I know I was not the only sad, frightened boy standing there that day.”

In a few days we landed at OAHU Hawaii then on to the island of Saipan in the Marianas Islands.  Saipan was the first beachhead his unit fought to establish. Our job was fueling flame throwers.  As soon as the equipment came in we built roads, repaired an old railroad.  We built the east fields for the fighters and bombers.  Later the B24’s and B17s came and we had to lengthen the airstrip for them, and later found out the main reason to lengthen it was to accommodate the B29’s.  It was a B29 (Enola Gay) that dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We were being shelled from near by Tinian Island so we went in and established a beachhead there.  When Tinian was secured, we were sent to New Herbrides near Australia for a couple of weeks R and R.—not much of either.
Next landing was Okinawa.  As soon as this beachhead was established the unit was sent to the Island of Iwo Jima.  Here we built a small airstrip for reconnaissance plane (L4’s) and some roads.
My unit was given “The Presidential Unit of Citation” for outstanding performance in combat during the seizure of the Japanese held islands of Saipan and Tinian from June 15 to August 1, 1944.On January 1st 1946 i got my discharge papers. I had been in service 2 years, 6 months, and 12 days.

Operation Hero Trek’s Mike Mobley talks to WAAY in Huntsville, AL

Two thirds of the way on his trek across the nation supporting our troops, Mike continues to call attention to veterans and our military.  Yesterday Operation Hero Trek was featured on WAAY in Huntsville, Alabama.  Watch the video here:

Servicemen’s dad who plans to walk 2,120 miles to support troops makes stop in Huntsville

Mike Mobley.jpgMike Mobley, who started his Operation: Hero Trek mission in March, stopped in Huntsville over the weekend. (John Perry/Special to The Times)HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Mike Mobley wanted to do something special to focus attention on the service and sacrifices of U.S. troops and their families – and raise money for four organizations that support active-duty military personnel and veterans, including the Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House foundation.

So on March 24 – after a year-and-a-half of planning – he began his mission, called Operation: Hero Trek, to walk the distance from his home in Highlands Ranch, Colo., to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he’ll await the return of his son, Marine Corps Sgt. Ryan Mobley, from Afghanistan after his fourth tour. Ryan’s twin, Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Mobley, has recently re-enlisted for another 21 months and is currently stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.

Mobley’s goal is to walk 2,120 miles.

“I have 700 more miles to go,” said Mobley, who stopped in Huntsville on his journey and leaves Tuesday morning, headed to Chattanooga. “I hope to be (at Camp Lejeune) by the end of May.”

Mobley, who turns 59 Monday, has traveled through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee – avoiding major highways and staying when he can at Kampgrounds of America (KOA) locations.

He logs the miles that he drives in his Suburban, then walks that distance, with a support team back home handling the advance work plotting his course. He typically walks 20 to 30 miles a day, spending about eight hours walking – always wearing combat boots.

“I’m seeing America from a different perspective,” said Mobley, a moderator for two online military family support groups who has his own consulting business. “I’m meeting a lot of great folks along the way.” The two American Gold Star Mothers. Strangers who offered to buy his gas or take him in for the night. The man whose son is serving in Afghanistan who wanted to take him fishing. The retired teacher whose uncle served in World War II who insisted Mobley take a $20 bill.

“It’s all I can give you,” the man said. “I still have it,” said Mobley. “It’s one that I’ll probably keep.”

Traveling alone has been the toughest part of the journey.

“It’s not hard physically, but mentally. I’m so close to my family, it’s difficult being away this long.”

But that has given Mobley a deeper appreciation for those serving in the military, who are away from their homes and families for long stretches. Mobley had hoped to spend some time with a younger brother in Huntsville, but his brother doesn’t start a job here until later this month.

Mobley’s family also includes his wife, Deana; two daughters, Julie Gooden and Jenni Johnson; and three grandchildren.

He tries to check in with his wife each day and keep his website updated frequently. He takes photographs of the people he meets to post on the site.

Will he do this again?

“Probably not,” said Mobley. “I’ll think of something else to do.” One possibility is climbing the Colorado mountains that are 14,000 feet and higher. “That way I’d be closer to home.”

OHT in the news: Through the eyes of a military mom

The Highlands Ranch Herald spoke to Deana Mobley, Mike’s better half, in a story in the paper yesterday.  Despite having watched their sons make multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, it is never easy for a mom.

As Deana Mobley prepared to watch her husband Mike begin his journey from Highlands Ranch to Camp Lejeune, N.C., on foot earlier this spring her concerns were far from what possible dangers he might encounter along the way.

Instead her concerns lie in Afghanistan, where Sgt. Ryan Mobley, one of her two twin sons enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, is deployed with the Marine Corps.

“My thoughts are always with my sons when they are deployed,” she said. “Certainly Ryan is the one who is foremost in my thoughts and my concerns right now. My Army son, Matthew, has been back for a couple years and is in college and I can only hope and pray that his unit does not deploy as scheduled next year.”

Ryan and Matthew, who enlisted right after graduation from Highlands Ranch High School in 2004, have put their mother through a total of six deployments between them, but none was worst than their simultaneous tours in 2007.

“It was a nightmare,” Deana Mobley said. “It was the only time they were both gone at the same time and the whole time they were over there was it really tough. It was hard not to be emotional, hard to focus on the things you need to focus on.”

Following a 4 a.m. phone call from Matthew and another call a month later from Ryan it got much harder for Deana.

Read the complete story here.

Heroes in a different uniform

The people Mike meets as he conducts Operation: Hero Trek are just amazing and very supportive of our troops and veterans.  Today Mike got to meet two more uniformed heroes – Tipton County Tennessee  Sheriff Deputies Chris Payne and Kira.

Heroes wear all different types of uniforms!

OHT update from Atoka, Tennessee

The road and folks on it have been kind to me. Rediscovered (again) that people really can drive with their wrists, folks actually wave here, everyone says howdy and asks how I’m doing. I’ve beed called “hun” a lot. Mosquitoes could actually be state birds, everything is green here and I promise everything has some form of unknow pollen. Rediscovered fixin and y’all. Everything here only takes a minute. Love the SOUTH! Alabama is in my sights now. Not much longer and North Carolina is right over chonder. Having a great time. Miss family and home a lot. Prayers to all those deployed and a special prayer for all the Marines in 2/9.

Oh and the LORAX mustache is going strong.

From the road,