According to Wikipedia:

Bob Wieland is a Vietnam War veteran who lost his legs to a mortar mine in 1969. [...] He "ran" across America on his hands, taking three years, eight months, and six days to travel from coast to coast.

Is there any verification that he truly crossed the United States under his own power?

  • This appears to be referring to his 1986 walk on his hands, not his 1996 round-trip riding a "handcycle", or his 2011 attempt to do three traversals on a handcycle.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


It appears that he did actually make the trip, starting in southern California on September 8, 1982, and ending in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 1986.

The Los Angeles Times ran a short blurb back in 1986:

Wieland, a former combat medic who lost both legs in a 1969 land mine explosion in Vietnam, began the trip on Sept. 8, 1982, at Knott's Berry Farm near Los Angeles. His parents and friends walked the final mile with the exuberant, muscular veteran, cheering him on to the memorial on the Mall.

A UPI wire story from that time also covered his accomplishment, in detail (q.v.):

A legless veteran who hobbled 2,000 miles across the United States on his padded knuckles ended his four-year trek Wednesday with an emotional ceremony at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.

A contemporary story from the Chicago Tribune explains some of the logistics of the trip (but little else about it):

He was blessed with an occasional helper, but most of the trip was a solo affair. That entailed "walking" a prescribed distance to his van, then driving back to the point where he'd left his wheelchair, then advancing a few more miles by motor, then parking his van, then taking his wheelchair back to repeat the entire procedure. It took him almost four years.

A 2011 retrospective from the New York Times gives little detail about the journey, but affirms that it took place.

Most sources also mention that on the day his walk ended, he visited President Reagan at the White House.

A video is available on YouTube showing some contemporary footage and demonstrating how he walks with his hands.

Finally, I was able to find an article written by someone who had met him on the journey. It was written more than a decade afterward, and a few of its details are not consistent with contemporary reports.

  • I'm still a skeptic that a single person could do this. Seriously I don't really even understand what this means "He was blessed with an occasional helper, but most of the trip was a solo affair. That entailed "walking" a prescribed distance to his van, then driving back to the point where he'd left his wheelchair"
    – William
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:16
  • 5
    @William You drive up the road a few kilometers and park up in a layby. You then go back to the starting point in your wheelchair. You leave the wheelchair at the starting point. You then "walk" back to your van. You drive back to the starting point. You pick up the wheelchair. The ending point is the new starting point. Repeat the process. Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:18
  • 1
    @William: What evidence would it take to convince you? We are unlikely to find video footage of the whole 3.5 year trek.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 13:10
  • @oddthinking I'm actually quit happy by the video it shows how he physical made the journey using a seat/leg extensions/feet thing and with knuckle pads. At this point I give him the benefit of the doubt. I hope someone in the future posts a gopro video and GPS of them self crossing the United States. My original question was about all the attempts although the scope was narrowed for being quit broad. I find it rather odd that Wikipedia lists a lot of people did this before the 80s(although there certainly was TV) there was no internet and limited media coverage of events. Its convenient.
    – William
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 18:36

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