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Retired Army colonel biking 1,700 miles to honor fallen paratroopers

WISN Milwaukee 9/22/2022
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On Sunday, retired United States Army Col. Christopher Kolenda will mount his bike and ride 1,700 miles across several states. He's making the two-wheeled journey in honor of six paratroopers from his military unit who were killed in action in Afghanistan in 2007.

"They had my back for 15 months in combat in Afghanistan. They died fighting for all of us. We're coming up on the 15-year anniversary and so I wanted to do something significant to honor their service and sacrifice," Kolenda said.

Kolenda's journey is scheduled to begin Sept. 25 in Spalding, Nebraska, 15 years after paratrooper Pfc. Chris Pfeifer died in Afghanistan. He will visit Pfeifer's gravesite.

From Nebraska, Kolenda will bike to Carroll, Iowa, to visit the resting place of Sgt. Adrian Hike. Next, he will travel to Elwood, Illinois, to visit the gravesite of Spc. Jacob Lowell. Kolenda plans to then ride to Hall, Indiana, to honor Sgt. Ryan Fritsche before heading to the resting site for Capt. Dave Boris. Kolenda's final stop is at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to pay his respects to Maj. Tom Bostick.

These are six men Kolenda says always had his back. He'll take them with him during the entire journey. Their names are etched on his bike. He also has their medals and the unit name on his bike.

"The pain never goes away. It changes; it never goes away. They fought in places where I asked them to fight. They were killed doing operations where I asked them to participate in. So, I mean, everything that happens and doesn't happen in your unit is your responsibility. And so it's something that I take very seriously," Kolenda said.

In addition to the tribute to the fallen members of his unit, Kolenda also set up the Saber Six Foundation to support the unit's veterans and families. He's raising money during the ride to donate to his unit and to fund a scholarship established in honor of Saber Six.

Kolenda is also hoping to raise awareness about veteran suicide. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 16 veterans die by suicide every day.

If anyone is interested in donating or following Kolenda's journey:

The Saber Six Foundation - Strategic Leaders Academy

READ MORE:Retired Army colonel biking 1,700 miles to honor fallen paratroopers

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