Alvin Straight: 73-Year-Old WWII Vet Makes 240-Mile Odyssey on a Riding Mower

Last updated: September 11, 2023
The Incredible Journey of Alvin Straight 73-Year-Old WWII Vet's 240-Mile Odyssey on a Riding Mower

In the summer of 1994, 73-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran Alvin Straight embarked on an extraordinary journey to visit his ailing brother, Henry.

Unable to drive due to poor eyesight, Alvin took to the road on a riding lawn mower, covering 240 miles over six weeks. His remarkable story not only reunited him with his brother but also inspired a Hollywood movie.

A Brother's Love Knows No Bounds

Alvin Straight's brother Henry was 80 years old and had recently suffered a stroke. Despite years of estrangement, Alvin felt the urgency to visit him.

However, Alvin himself was battling health issues like diabetes and emphysema, and his poor eyesight had cost him his driver's license. Undeterred, he took an unconventional route—literally.

Inspired by country singer George Jones, Alvin decided to make the journey on his riding lawn mower.

Preparation and Setbacks

Alvin was no stranger to challenges. A veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, he knew the importance of preparation.

He tuned up his old Airens lawn tractor and loaded it with supplies and camping gear. However, his first attempt was a failure; the mower broke down after just 25 miles.

Alvin then bought a 1966 John Deere 110 and set out again, only to face another breakdown. But he remained steadfast, fixing the mower and continuing his journey.

The Journey and Reunion

Alvin's journey was far from smooth. He ran out of money halfway and had to wait for his next Social Security check.

Despite these obstacles, he persevered, camping on the roadside and cooking his meals. Finally, after six weeks and 240 miles, Alvin reached his brother's home in Wisconsin.

A local farmer helped him cover the last two miles when his mower broke down again. The brothers reconciled, and Henry eventually moved closer to Alvin.

The Legacy Lives On

Alvin's incredible story caught the attention of Hollywood. Filmmaker David Lynch recreated his journey in the movie "The Straight Story," which remains a classic road-trip film.

Alvin Straight passed away in 1996, but his story of determination and brotherly love continues to inspire.



Alvin Straight's 240-mile journey on a riding mower is a testament to the indomitable spirit of our veterans.

His story is not just about a physical journey but also a journey of the heart, reuniting two brothers and inspiring countless others.

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