A retired soldier is paying back what he says is a debt to the U.S. army

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Posted: Mar 04, 2014 4:40 PM EDT Updated: Mar 04, 2014 4:40 PM EDT

Written by Elizabeth Hughes, Reporter | Link to Original Article

3352485_GA retired soldier from South Carolina is paying back what he says is a debt to the US Army. His journey started Monday, and his second stop was USC Aiken, South Carolina.

Tom Von Kaenel has vowed to ride his bicycle from the tip of the Florida Coast to Alaska to show his appreciation to the U.S. Military for saving his life.  

It’s hard to believe that just four years ago, retired vet Tom Von Kaenel was in a life threatening bicycle accident that left him with a shattered hip and broken pelvis. He was transported to military hospital in France where he says, hospital staff saved his life.

 Now he plans to ride his bicycle across the U.S. to honor the people that saved him.  “Thank you, this is my way of giving back pure and simple.”

Kaenel’s bike tour is sponsored by the Sea2Sea U.S. Military non-profit organization. An organization that’s purpose is to give back to those who served.  USC Aiken’s veteran Military Student Success Center’s Robert Murphy says having the event on Campus is the best way to bring notoriety to the youth of South Carolina.  “but the interesting thing I think will take place tonight, I when they are away from their friends and back in their dorm, they are going to contemplate on what they just heard and what they just saw-and it might cause them to go a little bit deeper in their studies whether its religion philosophy, why do people go to war and maybe cause them to go a little bit deeper.”

The students I spoke with at UCS Aiken, on campus had no idea Von Kaenel would be showing up, and say after hearing his story, they are rooting for him whole heartedly.

Ally Brown, a student said Tuesday, “It just made me love, and respect the military even, more and want to encourage them.”

Danielle Seibert, another student says, “it makes me really grateful and thankful for not only my family but everyone else serving in the military, because we take that for granted on a daily basis.”

Von Kaenel says being here with the students is just the start of his long journey, and he hopes that sharing his story will remind the students of the dedication and commitment the U.S. Army has for Americans. “This kind of event changes your life because you see the depth, the devotion and sacrifice these men and women servicemen make.”

Von Kaenel should finish his journey in July, and says the road won’t be easy but it’s the least he could do to thank the men and women who saved his life.