CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A veteran from West Michigan will walk 454 miles to honor the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Jesse Johnson-Brower, a Hudsonville native and veteran of the U.S. Army’s 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, left Gerald R. Ford International Airport Thursday, bound for New York City.
He will walk from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the site of the World Trade Center to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, then to the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
As a member of the 3rd Infantry, Johnson-Brower was among the first to respond after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon and got a firsthand look at the devastation.
What he saw prompted him to found LifeGR, a nonprofit that provides counseling and support to members of the military, veterans and first responders.
“The message is that we need to support our American heroes and so many of them are working through difficult times, and LifeGR provides a ton of services to them,” Johnson-Brower said. “In just West Michigan, we’ve helped over 3,000 American heroes, but so much of it is private that we don’t have the marketing material, but if you see a siren or a light, they know who we are and the same with the military. The takeaway is (that) we need support.”
Johnson-Brower got a police and military escort from his home to the airport. At the Pentagon, he expects to meet up with some members of the 3rd Infantry with whom he served on Sept. 11.