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Rain, truck traffic doesn’t deter local man’s walk for USO

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Army Capt. Brian Andries’ biggest problem as he made his 165-mile solo walk from Oswego to Charleston to raise money for USO Illinois were the trucks zooming by as he hiked along Route 47.

It wasn’t that he feared for his life as they sailed flew past him. He just had to hang on to his hat to keep it from flying off his head.

Then there was the rain.

What started as a drizzle quickly turned to a good “drenching” for the 25-year-old Oswego native as he made his way from Forrest to Gibson City.

A nice gas station attendant in the tiny town of Sibily helped Andries get his rain poncho over his body and backpack, he said Wednesday morning of his adventures the previous day. But as he made his way south, he realized he’d have to forgo his own protection to better cover the gear that was starting to get wet.

Yes, the young man got very, very wet.

And so, the musician and songwriter who was also an engineer platoon leader in Iraq, began “singing in the rain.”

At one point, Andries admitted, one of his selections was “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent.

“I’m glad no one was around,” he quipped, obviously still in good spirits despite this arduous mission he’s been on since Saturday.

How does he spend his time when he’s not warbling show tunes? He’s doing a little social media, texting friends during breaks and even making phone calls to those who have donated to his cause. (Go to to contribute)

“I’m doing better every day,” he says. And as the finish line nears (he needs to get to Champagne today, a good 30-mile hike), his excitement grows.

One more thing that keeps him going: a nice big pizza he consumes at the end of each day.

Is he going a little crazy as he walks the roads of Illinois? Maybe, he says. “After all, I am singing songs from Rent.”

Water so far has not been a problem. He stopped at a river outside Solomon and filled his filtration pouch with dirty flood water that turned into perfectly good drinking water a short time later. “Pizza again,” he said of dinner that was purchased at the local gas station.

His mom finally got the daily phone call from her son on Monday evening, telling her all was well. It was a belated call since cell phone reception “wasn’t all that good” in the small Illinois town.

Mary Andries tried to convince her son to make this journey with a friend, but he wanted to do it on his own, leaving her extremely proud but even more apprehensive.

On leave from the Army after serving in Iraq as an engineer platoon leader, Andries, a singer/songwriter who also DJ’d during his years at Eastern, plans to head to Los Angeles, where he will join the Reserves and try to jump-start a career in the entertainment business.

By the way, rain is in the forecast, so the captain has his poncho ready to go.

To donate to this Walk for USO, go to

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