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The story behind the 91-year-old WWII veteran whose one-arm push-ups video went viral


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IDAHO FALLS — His one-arm push-ups have been seen nearly 5 million times, but 91-year-old Eugene Andrews says there is so much more to his life. posted a short video on Facebook of Andrews, a World War II veteran, doing his push-ups over Memorial Day weekend. It quickly went viral, with tens of thousands of people sharing and commenting on the post from all over the world.

“Just because I was in my uniform, and it’s gone worldwide, it seems to mean something to somebody,” Andrews said. “But there are other things that mean a whole lot more.”

While stationed with the U.S. Army in Japan during the occupation following World War II, Andrews spent his free time with the people who, months before, were bitter enemies of the United States.

“I go over to Kyoto, look around and see what I can find out about these good people,” Andrews said. “I thought, ‘Well, these people here are just like we in the United States as civilians. They didn’t start the war. … I’m going to treat them like a good neighbor.'”

Andrews worked in a museum library during the occupation. During his free time, he walked around the city looking for those who could speak English.

Eugene Andrews, a 91-year-old World War II Veteran shows-off his one-arm push-ups at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport. | Eric Grossarth,

On one of those walks he encountered a Japanese boy speaking English. He continued talking with the boy and his family. Eventually, the family invited Andrews to eat with them in their home.

“Then they started going further,” Andrews said. “They started giving me gifts. To me that’s what you do with people – everybody. We’re commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. … He’s my neighbor, I’m going to treat him the same … like I treat my friends and neighbors back home.”

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One present they gave Andrews is something he considers a peace gift.

“They gave me a sword. A weapon,” Andrews said. “Now, isn’t that a peace offering between somebody who had been recently in combat (with each other)?”

After the war, Andrews returned home to Idaho. He found a job with Andrew Drilling, where he worked 25 years before opening his own insulation company keeping potatoes cool. When he retired, he passed the business onto his sons.

After retirement, Andrews began learning Spanish, and he and his wife served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico City.

Eugene Andrews not only does one-arm push-ups, he cooks and bakes bread. | Courtesy Photo

He has since returned home and spends his days caring for his wife, baking bread, cooking and doing other household chores. These help him stay fit enough to do his one-arm push-ups.

“Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it,” Andrews said. “So direct your mind down the proper path. Take care to be kind to your friends and neighbors because they will return it. … You must be willing to help anybody you possibly can if you have the opportunity.”