Iraq war veteran Andrew Goldsmith skates down Highway 1 on an early leg of a 900-mile-long journey along the California coast. (Photo by Bob Harington)

PCH — Most people wouldn’t travel down the Pacific Coast Highway on skateboards while flying a huge American flag.

But then again, Andrew Goldsmith and Bob Harington aren’t most people.

Iraq war veteran Andrew Goldsmith skates down Highway 1 on an early leg of a 900-mile-long journey along the California coast. (Photo by Bob Harington)

Goldsmith, 28, and Harington, 29, are skateboarding down the California coast to raise awareness for veteran causes and money for Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

They began their 39-day journey on June 1 in Brookings, Ore., and are scheduled to stop in Malibu on July 1 before continuing on to Tijuana, Mexico.

The trek is set to end on July 9.

Goldsmith said the stop in Malibu might be extended so they can be in Redondo Beach on the Fourth of July.

“We’re ahead of schedule,” he said.

Goldsmith and Harington, both veterans of Iraq, came up with the idea for the Veteran Skate Trek in 2008, during Goldsmith’s second tour of duty.

It all started with a package from home.

“My mom sent me a road map of California,” Goldsmith said.

The map was supposed to inspire Goldsmith to take a walking tour of the coast. The trip would be an adventure and a chance to publicize veteran causes.

Goldsmith had a slightly different take on it.

“Why not skate and roll when we can?” he said.

Now, American flag in tow and sticking mostly to California One, Goldsmith and Harington are rolling right down the coast and posting updates on Facebook and Twitter.

They keep safe and visible while on the road by wearing reflective gear and camp out in state parks or rest in small towns along the way.

A “support trailer” is available for the pair to camp in. One man drives while the other skates.

“I do the majority of the skating, but we’re always changing,” Goldsmith said.

It’s easy enough for Goldsmith, who has been skating since he was a kid in Redondo Beach. Harington hasn’t been skating quite as long.

“Bob has only been skating for three months,” Goldsmith said.

“He’s learning fast,” he added.

On the road, the reaction has been good, Goldsmith said.

“People are passing, honking, waving.”

But the best encounters are in person. Talking to people and hearing their reactions is rewarding, Goldsmith said. In Santa Cruz, Goldsmith and Harington were approached by a man who had heard about the trek.

“He talked for five minutes and was gone,” Goldsmith said.

But not before he donated $500, he said.

The money goes to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The organization offers free membership to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and provides services to help them with health, employment and education, Goldsmith said.

“They are about empowerment,” he said. “Basically, helping vets help themselves.”

More than 250,000 people are members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Goldsmith and Harington are also meeting with veterans wherever they can and collecting their stories, as well as encouraging community involvement in veteran issues.

After the trek, Goldsmith will be returning to Malibu in the fall to attend Pepperdine University and study law, he said.

“It’s beautiful and it’s close to home.”

Goldsmith will attend the university on a GI Bill scholarship, he said.

“They’re very supportive of veterans,” he added.

The subject is never far from Goldsmith’s mind, and he would like to use the study of law to advance veteran causes, he said.

To follow the Veteran Skate Trek, visit VetSkateTrek or www.Twitter. com/VetSkateTrek.


This article originally appeared in the Malibu Times.

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