Every year on Memorial Day weekend, CrossFitters in affiliates across the world perform the Hero workout, ‘Murph’. It is a workout that has become synonymous with CrossFit, not just for its brutal toughness, but for what it represents. ‘Murph’ is not simply another workout we do in a class to increase our fitness before moving on to whatever else we have going on in the day. It is a workout designed to honor and remember the men and women of the armed forces that have lost their lives in defense of our freedom. And as is the case with every Hero workout, it has a story of courage and sacrifice behind it.
In this article provided by Box Life Magazine, we learn a little bit more about Murph and the significance of this work-out.
‘Murph’ is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. He was 29-years-old. After graduating from Penn State University in 1998, Murphy rejected offers to attend law school and instead accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a SEAL in July 2002. For a man whose nickname was ‘The Protector’, the decision made perfect sense. In fact, when Murphy was in the 8th grade, he was suspended from school for fighting with bullies that were trying to shove a special needs child into a locker. And Gary Williams, author of “Seal of Honor,” a biography of Murphy, recounts a story where Murphy protected a homeless man who was collecting cans from a gang of thugs.
In early 2005 Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as officer in charge of Alpha Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan. In June of that year, Murphy was leading a four-man reconnaissance team in Kunar province as part of a counter-insurgent mission (the other men in Murphy’s team were Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson and Marcus Luttrell). During the mission the team encountered a group of local goat herders.
A discussion was held among the four SEALs regarding the rules of engagement and what they should do with the herders, who were being held at gunpoint. Eventually the men decided to release them, but not soon after the SEALs were surrounded and ambushed by an overwhelming Taliban force. Murphy, who was trying to reach HQ via satellite phone, willingly exposed himself to enemy fire by stepping into a clearing where he might get a signal to make the call. Murphy was shot in the back, but still managed to calmly complete the call for reinforcements and return to his position to continue the fight with his men. HQ sent an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to rescue the team, but while attempting to set down in rugged terrain, the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 men on board.
Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson were all killed in action. Luttrell was the only survivor and was eventually rescued after several days of wandering the mountain and being protected by the people of an Afghan village.
The actions and story of the SEALs on June 28th, 2005 are portrayed in the film ‘Lone Survivor’
Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courage and sacrifice that day. All three of his men were awarded the Navy’s second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their actions. The men who were killed in the rescue attempt were also honored. These included Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor and Lt. Michael McGreevy, who were posthumously awarded Bronze Stars for Valor and Purple Hearts. CrossFit HQ’s Russell Berger, who served in the 1st Ranger Battalion, writes of these men: “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.”
In honor of Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor, killed June 28, 2005, in Afghanistan:
21, 15 and 9 reps for time of:
First posted July 6, 2005.
In honor of Lt. Michael McGreevy, killed June 28, 2005, in Afghanistan:
3 rounds for time of:
Run 800 meters
50 back extensions
First posted July 15, 2005.
These HERO workouts are symbolic gestures of respect for all the fallen soliders and service men and women who defend our freedom. CrossFit affiliates around the world, regardless of ethnicity or nation, honor their courage by pushing themselves to the limit in these (intentionally) brutal workouts. It is a way to remember these men and women—to ensure that they are never forgotten. Every Memorial Day weekend, we remember Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy.
In honor of Lt. Michael Murphy, killed June 28, 2005, in Afghanistan:
Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
First posted Aug. 18, 2005.
This workout was actually created by Murphy himself, and he originally titled it ‘Body Armor’—hence the 20lb. vest. This is not an easy workout. It is high volume, and requires the respect it deserves. While you may be understandably fired up to attack it with vigor straight from the get-go, we’d like to offer you a few tips to ensure that you give ‘Murph’ your best effort and don’t burn out too early.