Marine Corps veterans tired of seeing fellow Marine Andrew Tahmooressi stuck in Mexican prison are traveling nearly 300 miles by foot to Washington, D.C., to tell President Obama to do whatever he has to do to get Mexico "to turn our Marine loose."
Marine Corps veteran Terry Sharpe is 63 years old and began walking the 287 miles from his home in Summerfield, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., two weeks ago to raise awareness about Tahmooressi, who has been in a Mexican prison since March.
"I just got tired of nothing being done," Sharpe told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday as he rested after eleven full days of walking. "What I’m doing is trying to keep Sergeant Tahmooressi in the media."
Tahmooressi’s charges stem from an incident in which he crossed into Mexico, he says by accident, with three loaded weapons in his truck. The weapons were legally owned by Tahmooressi in the United States but violated Mexico’s strict anti-gun laws.
Sharpe is certain that Tahmooressi’s arrest was the result of a mistake.
"He didn’t want to go to Mexico, he made a wrong turn," said Sharpe. "He wasn’t there to be a terrorist or sell weapons. And he shouldn’t be where he is at for a wrong turn."
Sharpe wants Obama to take action and force Mexico to return the 26-year-old Tahmooressi, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan.
"I got aggravated because nothing is happening and I said I’m going to walk up to Washington, D.C., and tell President Obama to make the phone call," he said. "All he has to do is call the president of Mexico and tell him to let the boy go."
"I know it can be solved with a phone call. And he can be out of prison and back to the United States and back into the hospital where he needs to be for post-traumatic stress disorder."
Sharpe was not alone for long on his trek to Washington, D.C.
On the third day of his walk, he crossed through Danville, Virginia, and was stopped by a man named Allen Brown who wanted to know what he was doing.
Brown happened to be a Marine Corps veteran as well. By coincidence, they both were part of the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines during the Vietnam War, deployed in the same location. Sharpe was in Kilo company, and Brown was in Lima company. The men both turn 64 at the end of the year.
The men don’t pretend that the walk has been easy.
"We just passed Covesville, and I’ll tell you it’s hilly up there," said Sharpe, who is now about 130 miles from D.C. "We got two old folks near 64 years old, and those damn hills hurt."
Supporters of the men follow Sharpe on Facebook and have helped along the way. On Sunday, Sharpe says a man helped him carry his pack 2.5 miles. On Monday a woman carried his large American flag for 7.5 miles.
People have also helped find a place for the men to sleep at night. Some have offered to put them up in motel rooms, and others have had them as guests in their homes, but they are not always that lucky and have spent nights sleeping in the bushes off the highway.
"Tons of people have been supportive, making sure we have a place to stay at night," said Sharpe. "We had to sleep in the bushes the past two nights. I’m too old for that. When it’s raining, when it’s cold, I’d rather have a motel."
Tahmooressi’s mother Jill, who has been very vocal about getting her son back, has been told about the two Marines and wrote them a letter. She also has told her son about what they are doing to put pressure on D.C. to take action on his situation.
The plan is to make it to Washington, D.C., in 10 days, and Sharpe is certain that they will make it there together despite the pain.
"[Brown] is unbelievable," he said of his marching partner. "His feet are swollen, his legs are swollen, he won’t stop. I tried to get him to stop, he won’t stop. We’re both going to make it, we’re going to get there."