Vietnam vet takes carriage across country

Published 9:19 pm Friday, June 13, 2014


Rodger Howell stands with his two horses, Dancer and Sunny. The carriage he rides in was crafted buy Amish in Michigan who wanted to ensure Howell was safe and protected during his travels. — Powell Cobb

Doctors told him he had five weeks left to live, so the Vietnam War veteran decided to see the country before the heart condition he was diagnosed with took his life.

Ten months later, Rodger Howell is still alive, and he’s never felt better in his life.

After traveling from his home in Tennessee up to Michigan and back down south via horse and carriage, Howell stopped in Bainbridge this week on his was to Havana, Florida.

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“I want to do what they say can’t be done and travel the whole United States,” Howell said. “I don’t want to die on the front porch, I want to do something.”

So far on his journey, he’s traveled more than 2600 miles. He and his horses have been through two tornados and an ice storm.

They even crossd the Ohio River on Christmas Day when it was flooded. But the stress-free lifestyle of being on the road has improved Howell’s health dramatically.

“Always look for that sunshine and it won’t go wrong on you,” Howell said. “If you look for the clouds, you’re going to find them every time.”

While in Michigan, Howell met up with one of his old high school friends Debbie McCoy. Howell convinced her to join him on his carriage to see the country.

With some friends telling her to go and others telling her to stay at home, McCoy eventually decided to jump in with him.

“I just want to spend time with him, I don’t care if it’s five minutes or five weeks,” McCoy said. “It was just so inspiring, and he’s such an inspiring person.”

Howell and McCoy plan to leave Bainbridge Monday and head to Havana and then Tampa, Florida. Afterwards, Howell wants to travel to Niagara Falls for the winter.

“I want to do it just to say I did it,” he said.