A Wounded Warrior Project Soldier's Ride took place in late...

A Wounded Warrior Project Soldier's Ride took place in late June along roads on the North Fork, starting in Greenport. These cyclists are in Cuthogue. (June 25, 2011) Credit: Randee Daddona

More than a year has passed since 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert lost his life in Afghanistan, but the East End community where he grew up hasn't forgotten his sacrifice.

Saturday morning in Greenport, six wounded soldiers and 180 others raised more than $30,000 for injured veterans in a 30-mile bike ride in honor of the soldier many knew as "Joey."

Talking about the 24-year-old from Shelter Island, who liked to hunt and fish, is still tough for his father, who can't keep the tears away.

"Aw, shucks," would have been his son's reaction to the event, James Theinert said. "I don't think he would believe all the fuss."

Joseph Theinert was killed June 4, 2010, when an improvised bomb exploded near him in the volatile Kandahar region. It was the Army soldier's first deployment.

The event is part of Soldier Ride -- a national project founded by Chris Carney, a physical trainer from East Hampton; Peter Honerkamp, owner of The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett; and Nick Krause, who works at the Talkhouse.

Funded by the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project, the group holds dozens of rides across the country each year and has raised millions since its inception in 2004.

The rides empower wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Honerkamp said, in addition to raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps veterans readjust physically and mentally to life after war.

"It became a rehabilitative ride as well as a fundraiser," Honerkamp said. "Guys and gals who are suffering traumatic injuries, instead of sitting in their hospital bed, suddenly empower themselves. Getting on bikes made them feel whole again."

Marine Sgt. Jeffrey Combs, 27, an Iraq veteran from White Plains who lost an arm to an improvised bomb in 2006, said it was "kind of awkward" to ride a bike with only one arm. He hadn't been on a bike in five years and finished only the first 10 miles, but vowed afterward to do it again.

The camaraderie among veterans is one highlight of the event, Marine Sgt. Michael Manning said.

"It helps get people off their couches, out of their bedrooms, away from computers and out back with people that they can relate to," said Manning, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq in 2003.

After the ride, the soldiers visited Theinert's grave on Shelter Island.

"It's amazing to see all the support and people who came out to ride in his honor," said Marine Cpl. Peter Kim, 31, of New Hyde Park, who also rode Saturday. "It's humbling just to be there."

Upcoming Soldier Rides are scheduled for July 22 in Babylon and July 23 in East Hampton, where 1,500 participants are signed up to ride in honor of Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter of Sag Harbor.

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