CENTREVILLE, Mich. — Robert Lookingbill has trouble walking sometimes, he said. At 69-years-old he has health issues stemming from his abdomen that make it hard for him to breathe and subsequently walk. However when he was at church on Sunday and found out about the Military Freedom Walk, he knew he had to participate.
“It meant being with my brothers and fellow veterans,” said Lookingbill who fought in the Vietnam War. “We are a family. We may not know each other personally but when it comes to being veterans, we are a family.”
Lookingbill was among the small group of veterans and civilians who walked down M-86 Monday morning in honor of Veteran’s Day. They gathered in 30-degree temperatures around 10 a.m. and walked from the downtown Centreville to Yoder’s Grocery Store nearly a mile away.
“I’d do it in the rain if I had to, or snow,” said Patrick Gillem, who worked fighter jets in the Navy for eight years. “I always feel like when we get a chance to do an Honor Walk like this, do it.”
This was Gillem’s third time participating in the walk. He said one aspect that he enjoyed about it was that he reconnected with old veteran friends and made new ones. It’s the camaraderie that made it special.
“It’s not the idea that you need big crowds or a ticker-tape parade or anything like that,” said Gillem. “It’s just the idea that there are people in this town that appreciate what we did.”
When Gillem and the other vets made it to Yoders doorstep, a dozen of residents greeted them by waving miniature American flags. They stood in two lines, forming an aisle down the middle, and sang God Bless America as the vets walked by. Lookingbill was the last to arrive due to his health. However he was determined not to give up he said.
“We are family that has been around for years and years and years,” Lookingbill said. “And still will ever be.”