Candia resident and Vietnam veteran Russ Mowry is planning a cross-country tour in his 1959 Elva Courier to help raise awareness about disabled veterans. Also pictured is Dick Kydd, who will be following Mowry on the journey. (BENJAMIN C. KLEIN PHOTO)
Vietnam vet's cross-country ride to benefit brain injury sufferers
"I thought, here is a chance to do something important," Mowry said.
After Mowry graduated from high school in 1962, his father bought him a Elva Courier, his first car, and a year later Mowry was driving it cross country to California.
"This trip wouldn't be possible without all the local support I have gotten, I mean I just found out the street engine needs work, and Earl Tucker of Nissan in Manchester, who lives in Raymond, is rebuilding the street engine for free."
"It took me an hour to say I would do it."
Kydd said that along with helping veterans, he is looking forward to visiting North Dakota, which is the only state in the country he has yet to visit.
Mowry said he is self-funding the trip to the tune of $8,000, and that all money contributed will go straight to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Local vendors contributing include Superior Interior and Armor Coatings in Hooksett, and the Campers Inn of Merrimack.
The genesis for the trip started after Mowry decided he wanted to relive his original cross-country trip 50 years ago when he packed all his Ray Charles albums and kept a diary detailing his experience, a diary he still has.
"Let's just say I have put in quite a bit more money restoring the car than the car is actually worth," Mowry said.
During the upcoming trip, which will include stops at vintage car shows and the annual motorcycle rally at Sturgis, S.D., Mowry said he will try to raise money everywhere he stops.
"I never thought about being a pilot, but at that moment it became something I wanted to do."
Mowry is no stranger to media attention, as he endured a catastrophic hydraulic failure while flying a news helicopter 800 feet above Brooklyn and crashing into the roof of a building in 2004, the video of which is available on Youtube.com.
A week before he leaves on his cross-country journey, Mowry said he is going to have an open house kick-off at his house on July 7 where he will sell space on his car. For a $20 contribution to the Intrepid fund, anyone can sign the car.
The kick-off will take place from noon to 5 p.m. at Mowry's home in Candia, at 387 Brown Road.