Private Joseph Hammond, 95, is walking two miles every day to raise money for frontline healthcare workers and veterans in need.
“I fought in the war which ended 75 years ago. Now we are faced with another invisible war – COVID-19,” Hammond said in a video posted to his JustGiving crowdfunding page.
Hammond was inspired by “Captain Tom” Moore, from the UK. Like the Brit, Hammond also fought in Myanmar, then called Burma, during World War II. Hammond served a mechanic in the army and fought in the infantry with the 3rd Gold Coast regiment, alongside the British Army.
“He’s a veteran and I am a veteran,” Hammond told CNN. “I sat quietly and thought over … his achievements and thought why not, if he has done it in Britain, at 95 years old, I can do it myself.”
A message to @captaintommoore. #WalkWithHammond @UKinGhana @walkeriain @UK_DAAccra @BBCAfrica @BBCWorld @GUBAFOUNDATION @forceshelpafri1 @TheRCSAfrica @BorisJohnson @PoppyLegion @NAkufoAddo @BritishArmy @TheRCSAfrica @euronews @CNNAfrica @CNN @SkyNews @SkyNewsBreak @piersmorgan pic.twitter.com/CubCnShYjl
— pte.hammond (@pte_hammond) May 28, 2020
His first week walking, Hammond totaled 14 miles. He wants to increase his distance going forward.
“I’m telling you, now I’ve clocked the 14 miles, next week when I conclude, it will be 30 miles,” he told CNN. “95-year-old man walking 30 miles, it’s amazing.”
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Hammond is in good health, and he wants to keep it that way. He’s been avoiding coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by following recommendations and social distancing.
“I obey all the instructions, I cover my mouth and I wash my hands,” he said. “I don’t want to die. I want to reach 100 years and by the grace of the Lord, I will.”
Even at 95, Hammond’s memory and wit are no worse for the wear. He still remembers ever battle he fought in, and the names of the men who served along him.
“We fought ferociously against the Japanese and we defeated them. … We experienced terrible, terrible things,” he told CNN. “Sometimes when I am in my sitting room, it comes before me, when we were crossing the river, fighting, it’s printed on my memory like a video film.”
Hammond reveres his fellow veterans, and prays for them before every walk.
“Anybody that goes to war, everyone must have respect for that person. It is not child’s play.”
By walking around his back garden, Capt. Moore raised more than $40 million for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. Hammond has raised more than $20,000 in his home town of Accra, Ghana, so far, and hopes to top $500,000 before he considers his mission accomplished.
The money Hammond raises will help purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers and veterans in need across Africa. Hammond sees this undertaking as an obligation that each his countrymen can carry on.
“I feel this is a pure humanitarian work. I am doing it for humanity,” he said. “I want to help them to assuage their suffering. I want everyone to contribute, little drops of water make a mighty ocean.”
Others are already following Hammond’s lead. The hashtag #WalkWithHammond has been trending on Twitter, used alongside similarly uplifting efforts of Hammond’s supporters.
— pte.hammond (@pte_hammond) May 29, 2020
Hammond and Moore aren’t the only veterans raising money. In Russia, 97-year-old Stalingrad veteran Zinaida Korneva, is sharing stories from the war on social media and her website to raise money for families of doctors who have died of coronavirus. In the UK, 100-year-old Dabirul Choudhury walked laps around a local community garden while fasting during Ramadan to raise money for COVID-19 victims.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.