Memorial Day is always a special time to us, and we annually seek out a ceremony to attend in order to show honor to all those who have lost their lives for our country. Yesterday, Rob and I participated in a new (for us) Memorial Day event that I was introduced to through my Crossfit box called Memorial Day Murph. We may have a new family tradition!
Many Crossfit workouts are named after heroes – various people who have lost their lives in the line of duty. “The Murph” was named after a Navy SEAL named Lt. Michael Murphy. The story has it that this particular workout was one of his favorite crossfit workouts and he performed it multiple times a week. Unfortunately, on June 28, 2005 he was killed in action in Afghanistan. Now each year on Memorial Day, Crossfitters from all over gather together to complete this workout in his honor, and also to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
Oh, and to make it even more challenging….to truly do this workout Rx style (“as prescribed”), you also wear a 20-pound vest! We didn’t do that this time, but many people did.
My local box made this into a huge event! So many people came – from our own box, and other boxes in the area. There was food and a bounce house for kids, and so many people bringing donations for the Wounded Warrior Foundation! The workout was split up into heats of around 10 people each that were staggered to start every 30 minutes.
Rob and I were part of the first heat and I think we did great! My amazing hubby agreed to do the workout with me and was by my side the entire time. Running is still really hard for me (but I’m getting better!), so my runs were super slow – but he was right there pacing himself with me! He could have easily lapped me since he’s an experienced runner, but instead he was right there beside me cheering me on (and even singing to me when I asked for music) as I jogged my way through that first…and then the last…mile. That meant the world to me! I was so proud!! I managed to run the 1st mile COMPLETELY without walking at all! That was a milestone for me. When I first started Crossfit, I could barely run 200m (1/8 mile) without stopping. I might have been slow, but it wasn’t a race. It was all about each person doing their own workout competing only against themselves.
When I went into this, I told myself I would be proud of myself if I even completed 1/4 or 1/2 of “The Murph”. I’ve never done it before, and I’m still working on my very-scaled pull-ups. In Crossfit, scaling an exercise means adapting it to your ability. I can’t do strict pull-ups yet, so I use a resistance band on the bar that I put one foot in to help provide some assistance in pulling myself up. The bands are like giant rubber bands in various strengths each providing a different amount of help. I use the biggest one that gives the most help….for now. My goal is to be on a much smaller band, or not at all, by next year!
Anyway, I was shooting for completing 1/4 – 1/2 of the workout, but when I hit the 1/4 mark I knew I could keep going! Then I got to the 1/2 mark, and I knew I still had some life left in me so I kept going some more. Just past the halfway mark, my muscles started to fail so I set my sights on doing 3/4 and I did it!!!
I did 75 pull-ups, 150 push-ups, and 225 squats! Then, I completed the last full mile run again with Rob by my side. I did stop and walk a little bit a few times, but I ran most of it. So so proud of my accomplishment!
1 mile run + 75 pull-ups + 150 pushups + 225 squats + 1 mile run = 1 hour 3 minutes!!
Rob did the FULL Murph in the same amount of time, but his time would have been much faster if he ran on his own. He was more interested in doing it WITH me than in getting a fast time though. I love you, Babe!!!
I want to share with you the story behind Lt. Michael Murphy. I found this posted online and it’s a great read as a reminder of why we have Memorial Day, and why we were willing to go through a little physical suffering in honor of all those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Why Memorial Day Murph was started:
On June 28, 2005, deep behind enemy lines east of Asadabad in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan, a very committed four-man Navy SEAL team was conducting a reconnaissance mission at the unforgiving altitude of approximately 10,000 feet. The SEALs, Lt. Michael Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz, Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell had a vital task. The four SEALs were scouting Ahmad Shah – a terrorist in his mid-30s who grew up in the adjacent mountains just to the south.
Under the assumed name Muhammad Ismail, Shah led a guerrilla group known to locals as the “Mountain Tigers” that had aligned with the Taliban and other militant groups close to the Pakistani border. The SEAL mission was compromised when the team was spotted by local nationals, who presumably reported its presence and location to the Taliban.
A fierce firefight erupted between the four SEALs and a much larger enemy force of more than 50 anti-coalition militia. The enemy had the SEALs outnumbered. They also had terrain advantage. They launched a well-organized, three-sided attack on the SEALs. The firefight continued relentlessly as the overwhelming militia forced the team deeper into a ravine.
Trying to reach safety, the four men, now each wounded, began bounding down the mountain’s steep sides, making leaps of 20 to 30 feet. Approximately 45 minutes into the fight, pinned down by overwhelming forces, Dietz, the communications petty officer, sought open air to place a distress call back to the base. But before he could, he was shot in the hand, the blast shattering his thumb.
Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.
Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.
An MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent is as part of an extraction mission to pull out the four embattled SEALs. The MH-47 was escorted by heavily-armored, Army attack helicopters. Entering a hot combat zone, attack helicopters are used initially to neutralize the enemy and make it safer for the lightly-armored, personnel-transport helicopter to insert.
The heavy weight of the attack helicopters slowed the formation’s advance prompting the MH-47 to outrun their armored escort. They knew the tremendous risk going into an active enemy area in daylight, without their attack support, and without the cover of night. Risk would, of course, be minimized if they put the helicopter down in a safe zone. But knowing that their warrior brothers were shot, surrounded and severely wounded, the rescue team opted to directly enter the oncoming battle in hopes of landing on brutally hazardous terrain.
As the Chinook raced to the battle, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter, killing all 16 men aboard.
On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs, Murphy, Luttrell, Dietz and Axelson, continued the fight. By the end of the two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Axelson and Dietz had been killed. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead.
The fourth SEAL, Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket propelled grenade and was knocked unconscious. Regaining consciousness some time later, Luttrell managed to escape – badly injured – and slowly crawl away down the side of a cliff. Dehydrated, with a bullet wound to one leg, shrapnel embedded in both legs, three vertebrae cracked; the situation for Luttrell was grim. Rescue helicopters were sent in, but he was too weak and injured to make contact. Traveling seven miles on foot he evaded the enemy for nearly a day. Gratefully, local nationals came to his aid, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three days. The Taliban came to the village several times demanding that Luttrell be turned over to them. The villagers refused. One of the villagers made his way to a Marine outpost with a note from Luttrell, and U.S. forces launched a massive operation that rescued him from enemy territory on July 2.
By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle.
This was the second worst single-day U.S. Forces death toll since Operation Enduring Freedom began nearly six years ago. It was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.