By DREW TAYLOR
The Opelika-Auburn News
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Nearly a year ago, Rodger Howell was given usually 5 weeks to live.
Howell was portion in a Military Assistance Command during a Vietnam War in a early 1970s when he was unprotected to Agent Orange, a herbicide used by a army to kill a leaflet in trees. In a years since, Howell has had double-bypass surgery, dual stints placed in his heart as good as deteriorating kidneys.
Despite his heart condition, Howell pronounced one of a primary things that has solemnly kept him alive so distant is a cross-country outing he has taken on a horse-drawn buggy, where he has logged over 2,500 miles with a association of his dual horses, Sonny and Dancer, as good as his limit collie, Banjo.
“I’ve felt softened now than I’ve felt in 11 years,” Howell said, crediting his softened health to stress-free travel.
After being given his initial diagnosis, Howell began a outing from his home in Erin, Tennessee on Aug. 5 as a approach to see his children, Sonja and Jason, and his grandchildren nearby Detroit, Michigan before he died.
“This outing started out as self-pity,” Howell said. “It was all about me proof that we didn’t need nothing, we didn’t need nobody and that we could do it.”
Since then, Howell has continued to float by a country, even flitting by Opelika Monday morning on his approach to Tampa, Florida to revisit his cousins. After he leaves Tampa, Howell would like to keep roving some some-more and continue observant a nation with his animals.
“I’d like to go to Niagara Falls with them,” Howell said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
In his long, black 14-foot cart and a car he drags behind him, Howell carries several pairs of clothes, a continue radio, food and H2O for himself and his animals, as good as a dungeon phone with a solar row trustworthy to a cart for emergencies. Howell also has remedy mailed to him during several stops along a way.
“This is about a many separate that we can ever get, we believe,” Howell said.
The outing has altered a approach Howell views life, as good as society.
“When we worked in law enforcement, we had no use for tellurian beings,” pronounced Howell, who worked in law coercion from 1982 to 1996, a final 6 years as arch of a Erin Police Department. “The infancy of them were liars and thieves when we worked as a cop.”
During his travels, Howell stayed everywhere from churches to a homes of strangers, all whom he pronounced took him in with beauty and generosity.
“I’ve met thousands and thousands of good people and 6 people we could do without,” Howell said.
One of a people Howell ran into along a approach was Jacquelyn Sherbert, a Beulah proprietor who grew adult with his him and his brothers in Belleville, Michigan, as good as attending Belleville High School, nonetheless they weren’t tighten then.
“Her and her sisters lived a few blocks from us and were integrate of years older,” Howell said. “They were a beauty queens and everything.”
Sherbert pronounced she initial listened of his outing final year and that when she found out he would be interlude nearby a Cowboy Church of Lee County on Hwy. 280 outward of Opelika, she had to see him.
“Our high propagandize was so tighten that anybody from that area means a lot to us,” Sherbert said. “We were all connected in a certain way, so anyone from that area means a lot to me.”
Between Thursday and Friday, Sherbert visited with him for 4 hours, throwing adult on their lives given withdrawal Michigan.
“It was engaging to see someone that’s been on such an adventure,” Sherbert said. “You never know what people are going to do after on in life.”
Despite his health problems, Howell doesn’t censure anyone for what happened to him in Vietnam, observant he could’ve simply gotten cancer from operative in a bureau or lung illness from operative in a spark mine.
“We’re going to all die,” Howell said. “We only have to character when we go out.”
Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/