"Once in a lifetime opportunity"- Summer Lynch
For me, it was a no-brainer - when I decided to trek the Kokoda Trail in the footsteps of my Great Grandfather Jim Cowey MC, I would be mad to trek with anyone BUT Soc Kienzle! Soc is the son of Captain Bert Kienzle, a man so pivotal to the Australian success in the Owen Stanley campaign due to his intimate knowledge of the Trail (and it's many off-shoots) yet more importantly his affinity with the local people, who he would organise to carry essential supplies, the sick and wounded, and the hopes of Australia on their caring shoulders.
Soc himself grew up on the Kokoda Trail and has a relationship with the local people built on mutual respect and shared experience. As he grew, the battlefields were Soc's playground and like a sponge he soaked up his father and other eye witnesses first-handaccounts of the events of the war against the invading Japanese.
Soc's knowledge of the Trail and the Owen Stanley campaign is unsurpassed, gleaned from primary sources, life experience and being passionate about getting the history absolutely correct - this distinction sets him apart from others in the “Kokoda Industry”. On a personal level, Soc is a very caring and compassionate man who has the health and safety of his trekkers utmost in his mind, but also a cheeky sense of fun that certainly pushes you through those bloody hills. At the end of each long, hard day, you still have a smile on your face, which speaks volumes of the morale he fosters in his trekking groups.
On my trek, I also witnessed the marriage between Soc/Komplete Kokoda and Kokoda Historical as being a very happy and productive one.
Gary from Kokoda Historical is indeed a fine historian, and his passion for the history of the Kokoda Trail and it's many players is unquestionable. With his intimate knowledge of the Diggers from both immediate contact and relationships fostered with the families left behind, he also brings a palpable, moving human story to the facts of the war.
In spite of my screaming lungs and aching feet, I thoroughly enjoyed my trek with Soc and Komplete Kokoda/Kokoda Historical. I learned so much about the history, and also myself from the experience. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from a Kokoda Trail legend, and I will never, ever forget it.