Marine vet walks 43 miles in U.P. to honor fallen soldiers

MUNISING — A former member of the U.S. Marine Corps is spending the day remembering his fallen comrades by putting one foot in front of the other.

Starting at 6 a.m., Matthew Viamontes began walking on M–28 in Marquette, destined for Munising. He did a similar walk like this a year ago.

Matthew’s wife and friends joined him for part of the 43–mile walk. He carried the American flag the entire time.

People driving by Viamontes honked their horns as a gesture of support. Today’s walk is very important to him for several reasons.

“This is what Memorial Day is about. It’s about remembering people who died serving our country, protecting our freedoms is something people take for granted now,” said Viamontes.

Viamontes is thinking about doing this walk every Memorial Day going forward.

“This is what it’s about,” Viamontes told ABC 10. “I’ve lost friends. I think most of us take for granted what Memorial Day is about. Looking back on the people who have died to protect our flag, protect our freedoms, and originally bring the country together.”

This is his second time doing this walk to raise awareness for the struggles that veterans face.

“It started with the Civil War, remembering both sides, and everybody who died bringing the country together. And I think, especially, today’s generation we need that more than ever, a unification of our country. If I have to put my feet and my body in pain again to make people aware, I’ll do it.”

He has received numerous honks from vehicles passing by and support. Viamontes wanted to sacrifice today, rather then do the typical barbecue and party that most Americans do on this three day weekend.

Viamontes says he was in the Marine Corps for a few years at the beginning of 2000, lost friends, and fellow soldiers. “It’s important to remember what people died for, and what the flag represents.”

Viamontes walks the trek with his wife Tina and a friend, who joined him for about half of 43 mile walk from Marquette to Munising along Highway M-28. He decided about two weeks ago he would repeat last years attempt, and did a training run in April to prepare his body. In last month’s previous attempt he started in Munising and got eight miles shy, wearing military style boots. For Monday Memorial Day’s attempt, Viamontes hopes to complete the whole walk.

ABC 10 & CW 5’s Jerry Taylor caught up with Viamontes on his journey for a Facebook live video interview.

Happy Memorial Day, Upper Peninsula.