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Jul 28, 2014 1:17 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Cross-country Hike for Heroes goes through Tucson

TUCSON - Mike Viti passed through Pima County in his cross-country journey to honor veterans.

The Army combat veteran, who served as an artillery officer in Afghanistan, said the Hike for Heroes is not about himself.

"I think part of your job as leaving the military is to be an ambassador of some pretty special people," Viti said.

His trip started near Tacoma, Washington. He left the Picacho Peak area Sunday morning.

"We're closing combat operations at the end of this year. And there's not going to be a ticker tape parade," he said. "And I feel like these are brave men and women who need to be celebrated and honored."

He is walking 7,100 kilometers in honor of each of the service members killed since September 11, 2001.

Sunday evening, he was honored in a ceremony at Armory Park.

Gilbert Munoz' son graduated from Salpoine Catholic High School then went to the Air Force Academy. He died in 2005 after serving in Iraq. He was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Munoz was inspired meeting Viti Sunday night.

"It's a tremendous help for us," Munoz said. "It's uplifting and obviously, it's very emotional for us also. It doesn't seem like it's been 9 years already."

Viti will walk across the southern states then up the East Coast. His journey will end in Baltimore, Maryland at the Army-Navy football game December 13.

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