Marine riding horse through Upstate on fundraising mission - FOX Carolina 21

Marine riding horse through Upstate on fundraising mission

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Ray Avery (left) and Matt Littrell (right) ride along US 76 in Laurens County (Courtesy: Sandra Reeder/ Facebook) Ray Avery (left) and Matt Littrell (right) ride along US 76 in Laurens County (Courtesy: Sandra Reeder/ Facebook)
LAURENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A former Marine will be riding through the Upstate on horseback as part of a cross-country journey to raise money for and lift the spirits of his fellow veterans.

Matt Littrell was an infantryman with Golf Company 2nd Battalion 5th Marines, who served in the Marine Corps from 2001-05. He served two tours in Iraq during that time.

In April, Littrell began his new mission, which he calls the "Long Trail Home." He set out from North Carolina's Camp Lejeune with his horse, Crow, along with riding partner, Ray Avery, and said they plan to ride horseback all the way to Camp Pendleton in California.

Littrell hopes to raise as much as $7 million for the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides assistance to wounded veterans, Littrell said. He's currently raised about $20,000.

"The money's going to help a lot of guys, but the most beneficial thing about this is that (wounded veterans) are going to see us out here riding every day," Littrell said. "Veterans with physical and psychological scars, they are going to see that someone is still fighting for them. See that they haven't been forgotten."

"Our veterans need more help than they're currently getting from government funded organizations such as the VA," Littrell said. "There are so many claims that not everyone is getting the treatment they need in time."

Littrell said he also hopes his ride can comfort veterans who are contemplating suicide, which Littrell said is a growing problem. He said he even contemplating ending his own life.

"I spent a long night with a pistol on the table in front of me," Littrell said. "A few days later, I woke up and realized I had to go on this ride, because I had too many of my own brothers die long after our war tours ended. I wanted the guys who are suffering to see this; that a guy who's been there himself is doing this for them."

On Thursday, Littrell rode into Laurens after about a week of riding through South Carolina. Littrell's crew made camp at Trinity Ridge Animal Health.

Littrell said he, Avery, and their horses would set out again at 8:30 a.m. Friday and continue their ride along US 76 until they reached Honea Path.

On Saturday, Littrell will head into Anderson, and he expects to cross into Georgia on Sunday. He said he's got about seven or eight months left in his journey to California, but he says the time will pass quickly.

"We just wake up every morning and go for a ride," Littrell said.

Littrell said the only worries his crew has is whether they will continue to find places to camp along the way.

"We rely on people to let us camp in their yard and to let our horses eat their grass," Littrell said. "So far though, the people in the Carolinas have blown me away with their generosity. They've made this mission a success so far."

Read more about Littrell and follow his journey on The Long Trail Home Facebook page.

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