MILWAUKEE — Retired Col. Chris Kolenda spent memorial day riding 100 miles on his bicycle. The ride is in preparation for something much bigger... honoring six paratroopers in his unit that were killed in action in Afghanistan.
"Memorial Day for me means six names. It means Chris Pfeifer, Adrian Hike, Jacob Lowell, Ryan Fristsche, David Boris and Tom Bostick," Kolenda said.
In the fall, Kolenda will embark on 1,700 mile bike ride across several states from Spalding, Nebraska to Arlington Cemetery. Along the way, he'll stop at each fallen soldier's grave site.
"It's really about honoring them and their service and sacrifice," he said.
He'll ride about 74 miles a day and expects it will take him 27 days. He said he knows it will be challenging, but when that fatigue hits, he just has to look down at the frame of his bike where six names are written to remember his reason why.
"If I ever feel like I'm hurting after a certain amount of time, I just gotta look down and it gives me all the inspiration," he said.
The Memorial Day kick off to his honor ride also included a fundraiser auction. Money raised will go to the Saber Six Foundation which support Kolenda's Unit's veterans, families and descendants achieve their dreams. Proceeds will also benefit a Milwaukee scholarship endowment for disadvantaged youth who aspire to public service.