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By LeAnn R. Ralph
TOWN OF SPRINGFIELD — If you see a guy somewhere around Glenwood City walking with a backpack and two American flags, honk, wave and yell “Hi Rob!”
The man with the backpack will be Town of Springfield resident Rob Evans, age 76, who is working on walking 123 miles in memory of the 123 Wisconsin veterans who died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
“I’m going to keep walking, and by the end of the month, I’ll have 123,” Evans said.
The Memorial Walk is a month-long project organized by the Outdoor Association for True Heroes, Incorporated, or OATH, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit organization located in Texas which uses outdoors activities centered around faith, family, and community to help eligible veterans.
OATH, Inc. has a team of walkers located in various states who are walking during the month of May to honor the veterans from their state who died.
Gary Bartels, the founder of OATH, Inc., is a West Point graduate who served in Iraq as an Army Ranger, Evans said.
Evans, who has had quadruple bypass surgery and is a cancer survivor, says the Memorial Walk is not about him, but rather, is about raising funds to help families who have lost mothers and fathers overseas.
“I’ve had quadruple bypass, and I beat cancer, and I’m doing it,” Evans said.
So far, Evans has walked well more than half of the 123 miles and plans to finish his walk at Fort Snelling on Memorial Day. His mother and father are both buried at Fort Snelling.
“I’ll be at Fort Snelling on Memorial Day, rain or shine,” Evans said.
Evans is a former Army sergeant who served in the military for three years and was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, in 1944 in a prisoner of war Army hospital. His father served with the military police guarding German and Italian prisoners of war.
Evans and his family moved to the Town of Springfield more than 15 years ago. For the past 40 years, he has operated an asphalt and concrete marketing consulting company.
Evans is the executive producer of The Ultimate Hunt television show featured on the Pursuit Channel.
The Ultimate Hunt is in its ninth season and will film the 100th episode this year, he said.
When The Ultimate Hunt first started, the program documented Evans and his co-host going on hunting trips, such as hunting wild turkeys in Tennessee, and which also raised money for cancer research at the University of Minnesota.
Three years ago, The Ultimate Hunt switched the focus to veterans, and the mission is to drive awareness to OATH, Inc., Evans said.
The Ultimate Hunt tells the stories of veterans and is more about highlighting their service than finding a trophy animal, according to show’s Facebook page.
Evans and Bartels, the founder of OATH, Inc., are co-hosts for the award-winning television show.
Some of the veterans featured on the show have been Army Rangers, Green Berets and Delta Force, and the show is going extremely well, Evans said.
For the past four years, the Memorial Walk has been done as a collective team, but because of COVID-19, this year, each team member is walking in their own states and areas, according to the OATH, Inc. website.
“As we cover the miles, we will not only honor these Heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice, but we will also seek to bring awareness to the true meaning of Memorial Day by turning it into the OATH Memorial Month,” the website states.
The goal for the Memorial Walk is to raise $40,000 all together.
Some of the money will be used for the Battle Buddy Trips, some for the Warrior Wives Retreats, and some for the Brother’s Keeper Trips and the Foxhole Program Trips.
For more information, visit the OATH, Inc. website at www.oathinc.org. To find out more about the Memorial Walk, click on the “Oath Memorial Walk Team” tab at the top of the page. The Oath Memorial Walk Team page features information about the walk and the people who are walking. To find Evans, scroll down the page.
For those wishing to support Evans in his Memorial Walk efforts, you can donate through PayPal on The Ultimate Hunt’s Facebook page and through the OATH Inc. website.
Meanwhile, if you do see Evans walking, be sure to give him a shout-out.
You can also help by sharing The Ultimate Hunt Facebook page.