Aspiring Soldier Quits Trek To Washington, Returning Home To Enlist
LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ A teen-ager marching to Washington to prove that his feet were good enough for the Army was told to cut short his trek and report today for induction, officials said.
Government officials decided Friday to grant a medical waiver allowing 18- year-old Allen Pepke, of New Haven, Mich., to enlist. Two earlier rejections, based upon a doctor’s diagnosis of psoriasis of the feet, prompted the would- be military pilot to embark Oct. 13 on a 625-mile walk to Washington to demonstrate his fitness.
Pepke had planned to arrive today in Washington. But he was ordered instead to report to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Detroit, where he was to be inducted into the Army, said Richard Cole, a spokesman for Gov. James Blanchard.
″Allen made the decision he’d drive back with his mother″ Sunday, Cole said. Noreen Pepke had accompanied her son in a pickup truck, he said.
Michigan State Police contacted West Virginia State Police on Friday night with word of the waiver, and troopers passed the word to Pepke at 6:55 p.m. Friday in Augusta, W. Va., Cole said.
Pepke, however, kept walking and called Cole on Saturday morning from Winchester, Va., 71 miles west of Washington.
″He thought he had achieved his goal, and there’s no problem in coming back now,″ Cole said. But Cole added, ″It was kind of a letdown, walking hundreds of miles. He wanted to see Washington.″
The spokesman said arrangements were being made to have Pepke accompany Blanchard on a future trip to Washington.
An Army spokesman said Friday that Pepke needed neither the widely publicized march nor help from Blanchard or U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to obtain the waiver.
″The same thing would have happened if he’d stayed home,″ said Steve Abney, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Sheridan, Ill. ″The paperwork was already in the mail. ... There’s still something wrong with his feet, but it’s something we can offer a waiver on.″