Eddie Gray, 38, is a Native American on a mission.  He is also a former US Marine and a member of the American Legion.  Since April of 2008 he has walked over 5,000 miles on his around-the-country trek to highlight veterans’ benefits.  For the past week or so he has been in Orange, spending a lot of time with fellow Legionnaires from American Legion Post 49 in Orange – even getting a make-over for the Halloween Party.  On Wednesday he stopped in to see the folks at the Orange VFW on Highway 87.

Wherever he travels, he makes a point to visit with local vets at the Legion and VFW.  The camaraderie from other former servicemen and women make him feel at home.   He also stops at VA hospitals when he can to visit with those veterans less fortunate than he.

He keeps a notebook of where he has been and with whom he has met, planning to write a book about his experiences when he finally returns home.

While Gray was in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, he was in a vehicle accident that left him with a broken sternum. He was medically discharged and then went to work for the U.S. Forest Service because of his love of the outdoors.

Eddie is now on a leave of absence from the US Forest Service and is used to the outdoors.  Until the weather forecast turned wet, Eddie slept in the woods outside the Legion Hall in downtown Orange.  Now, thanks to the generosity of the Comfort Inn at Highway 62 and I-10, he has a nice hotel room to relax, clean up and sleep in.

Gray said, “Having some private space here at the Comfort Inn allowed me to rest undisturbed and to catch up on my laundry and cut my hair.  Just easy R&R.”

Mrs. Cheryl Fragomeni, Sales Manager for the Comfort Inn said, “We’re proud to have him here.  He’s walking for a good cause and needs support.  Of course, it was nice to get him out of the rain too.”

Fragomeni went on to say, “The hotel owners work hard to promote Americanism, both here and in their native Pakistan where they have opened an orphanage that teaches American values to kids and encourages them to come to the USA for college and grow business here in the Land of Opportunity.”

Eddie will leave the Orange area on Saturday, traveling through Louisiana to Exit 44 on I-10 where he will be picked up by members of the Coushatta Tribe and brought to Kinder LA for the next stop on his journey.

Pictured are Mrs. Cheryl Fragomeni of the Comfort Inn handing an Orange County information book to Eddie Gray, a Native American and Former Marine. Gray is walking the USA to support Veterans Rights. His trip had already taken him more than 5,300 miles when he was welcomed at the Comfort Inn in Orange.