Special to the Village News
Fallbrook High School graduate Kenny Mintz will be recognized Friday, Nov. 4, by the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce. The football standout from the CIF champion Class of 87 at FHS completed a 3,000 walk from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to Swami's Beach in Encinitas on Oct. 22.
The journey – Kenny's Walk Across America – took six months and was undertaken to raise funds for veterans' causes and in honor of his mother, who died in 2020 after a five-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Mintz, 52, retired in June 2021 after 32 years in the Army. He achieved the rank of colonel.
The ceremony will be at 3 p.m. at the chamber offices and the public is welcome to attend and join in a walk to the Red Eye, owned by another FHS alumnus. The short walk is to recognize Mintz' rallying cry, "Come walk with me!"
Details of his journey are available on Facebook.
Mintz said after leaving the Army he wanted to do something meaningful and challenging. The walk allowed him to meet some of the people he had served with in the Army. A West Point graduate from the class of 1991 and father of three daughters and a son – all in their 20s – Mintz served as an Army infantry officer and had six combat deployments: two to Bosnia, one to Iraq and three to Afghanistan.
He also wanted to highlight the 14 soldiers who died in combat under his command of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division during its 2011-2012 tour in the Zhari district in the Kandahar province – which he said was "the worst of times in the worst of places."
Mintz is raising money for two veterans' causes: The Johnny Mac Soldier's Fund, which gives grants to the children of fallen service members, and Operation Resiliency, which organizes unit-level reunions for those who served in combat together. Fulfilling one of his mother's final wishes, he is also seeking funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
It was with his mother that Mintz first traveled from Washington, D.C., to Southern California, by car, when he was 4 years old, and she was a single mother heading toward a new life. This re-creation of that boyhood journey took nearly seven months.
The veteran said he averaged 20 miles a day, 120 miles a week, with a rest day on Sunday. He traveled with a support vehicle and said while he enjoyed walking with others, the quiet time on lonely stretches was also good in its own way. "I embraced the suck," he said.
The entire trip is chronicled on Facebook with his personal accounts. For example, on the Oct. 9 log (about Oct. 8), written as he and a friend approached the Colorado River and California – the 13th state on the journey – they were seriously low on water and the heat was extreme.
"I said out loud, I wish that the clouds would give us some shade," he chronicled, "and this one wispy cloud suddenly appeared between us and the sun. We had a veil of cloud protecting us from the oppressive heat, and I felt a steady wind on my face. Our guardian angels had interceded at that moment when we needed it the most!"
Mintz went through a dozen pairs of shoes on the trip and said he was excited to complete the trip to the North County coast where he grew up as a child.