A Winona resident, and Marine, has completed his trip in a canoe all the way down the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to Louisiana.
Two tours in Afghanistan took a toll on Joshua Ploetz. He was injured by a roadside bomb and lost friends to combat and suicide.
When the 30-year-old Ploetz, who attended Winona State Universitty, returned from the war eight years ago, he was coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, the fallout from a minor stroke and other injuries.
But Ploetz says he found direction when he began his 71-day trek to the Gulf of Mexico. He spent 49 of those days paddling 2,300 miles; the remainder was spent resting.
The finish was bittersweet. He said: quote--"I want to be done, but I want more river to paddle."--end quote.
Ploetz said one of the most memorable moments during the trip was a riverside greeting by almost 100 Marines and a live band when he rounded a bend in New Orleans.