One of the most powerful experiences in CrossFit in my mind is our participation in Hero WODs.
CrossFit is a sport that on a normal day makes our lungs burn and muscles tired. It makes us sweaty and gets the heart rate going. Hero WODs are meant to do that, and much more. They are named after those who have died in the line of duty in either the armed forces or emergency services. It has become a tradition that on Memorial Day, we do a workout called “Murph”. It is a beast of a workout and even looking at it makes most people think, “Woah, that’s gonna hurt!” Or “Can I even do that?” Here's the thing, it’s supposed to hurt and yes, you can.
“Murph” is named after Lt. Michael Murphy. Lieutenant Murphy served in Afghanistan and gave his life to save his fellow soldiers. The following is an account of his heroism.
“On June 28, 2005, four Navy SEALs on a reconnaissance mission in the Kunar province of Afghanistan were ambushed by an overwhelming Taliban force. Team leader Lt. Michael Murphy, unable to call for help from his location, walked into the center of enemy fire, where his satellite phone might work. He punched in the numbers to HQ and calmly requested reinforcements.
Even after being knocked to his knees from a gunshot wound to his back, Murphy calmly sat back up, steadied himself and continued the call, knowing that it was the only way he might save his men. Once the call for reinforcements had been completed, he returned to the fight with an MH-47 Chinook helicopter on the way.
Outrunning its escort of attack helicopters, the Chinook rushed into the battle for a daring daylight rescue. Attempting to set down in tremendously rugged terrain filled with hostile militia, the Chinook was hit by a rocket- propelled grenade. The eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard were killed, leaving Murphy and his men to continue the fight. When the battle ended, Murphy and all but one of his men had been mortally wounded.
“Murph” was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his gallantry on June 28, 2005. Only one other serviceman has received the award while serving in Afghanistan. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. Among those killed in the rescue attempt were Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor and Lt. Michael McGreevy. Both SEALs were posthumously awarded Bronze Stars for Valor and Purple Hearts. These men were fathers, husbands and sons. They were brothers to their fellow SEALs. They were also CrossFitters. In their actions, these men embodied the values and spirit of true heroes, and to immortalize their courage, bravery and self-sacrifice, the CrossFit Hero workouts were created.” (Berger)
Hero WODs are meant to test us physically and mentally to pay homage to the fallen. We honor the men and women who have died in the line of duty by pushing past our comfort zone and appreciating the freedoms we have.
When you are in the middle of your pull-ups, or struggling on shaky legs through your air squats, settle into that pain cave and be thankful for those who paid the ultimate price.
Join us this Memorial Day for “Murph”. You don’t have to be super fit or even a regular member. You just have to bring yourself and become a part of an incredible community of normal people just trying to the intention to say “thank you” through sweat.
First posted Aug. 18, 2005
Berger, Russell. “Fallen but Never Forgotten.” CrossFit Journal, May 2010, library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Berger_Fallen.pdf.