By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It was a dip in the ocean like no other.
When Derry resident Bill Manning dipped his front bicycle wheel in the Atlantic Ocean Monday, he celebrated the conclusion of a two-month journey across the nation to support his fellow soldiers.
Bill Manning, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, rode his bicycle across the country to support the Wounded Warrior Project, raising money and awareness for the needs of injured servicemen and women to provide programs and support.
He raised more than $30,000 in donations.
The cross-country journey meant more than 3,000 miles in 50 days for Manning, a committed cyclist and supporter of those who served their country.
He served in the military from 1960 to 1964.
Manning, who turns 70 this year, left June 17 from the coast of Oregon after dipping his rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean.
Prior to his ride, Manning said taking on this challenge was a great physical mission, making him train on a daily basis.
“It’s nothing like the challenges faced by our wounded warriors and their families,” Manning said.
He said the trip was a good one and the weather cooperated most of the time.
“We made it all the way,” he said. “We had a couple of hot days, but then I thought of the all the wounded warriors while I sat there complaining. I’ve got my full body and many of them don’t.”
Manning’s wife, Jean, said the ride meant a lot to her husband.
The couple has been married 18 years and met while cycling during rides with the Granite State Wheelmen.
“This was a very important ride for Bill,” she said. “He has been talking about it for two years.”
She said her husband is very patriotic and time spent in the Marine Corps changed his life.
“He was back in the U.S. before the Vietnam War was started, never shot at or in any severe danger,” she said. “One of his classmates was killed in Vietnam. I guess a lot of veterans were not supported when they returned, so Bill wants to give back to all the servicemen and women. He loves his country and is grateful for the freedom we have here.”
Manning has ridden across the country before to support other charities, including the American Heart Association and Pan-Mass Challenge.
He received many donations to support his ride, including a $5,000 donation from the Halcyon Club in Derry. Contributions can still be made at support.woundedwarriorproject.org/individual-fundraising/BillyManning.
He thanked everyone who supported his journey and helped him exceed his goal.
Jean Manning said her husband has a lot of integrity, is generous and humble.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said.