CARROLL, IOWA — A retired US Army colonel is on a 1,700 bike ride across the country to pay tribute to six of his men who were killed in action and to raise awareness about the continued struggles with PTSD and drug abuse faced by soldiers who served in Afghanistan.
Chris Kolenda is a retired Army Colonel who commanded som 800 paratroopers in eastern Afghanistan over 15 months around 2007. During that time six of his soldiers were killed in action. Now fifteen years later, he is honoring each soldier who lost his life by riding his bike from Nebraska, into Iowa and east all the way to Arlington National Cemetery.
On Tuesday he stopped to honor US Army Sgt. Adrian Hike, at his grave in a cemetery in Carroll.
“Adrian Hike was one of the best non-commissioned officers that we had,” said Kolenda. “People would say there’s nobody they trusted their life more with on combat than Adrian Hike.”
Kolenda said that after a tour of combat Hike suffered from PTSD.
“What so impressed me about Adrian, is he got the help he needed, he bounced back,” said Kolenda.
“He was already combat hardened, he already knew what everything was about he was an expert in his job,” said Andrew Boelman, also from Iowa, who served with Hike.
“They died serving places I asked them to serve, doing things I asked them to do. so,” said Kolenda. “I want to tell their stories, people to know them as flesh and blood human beings, not just names etched in granite.”
Kolenda, and his Saber Six Foundation are hoping to help soldiers who served with him in Afghanistan but still suffer from PTSD, or drug abuse.