Jan 072011

Welcome to 2011! These hearty souls took on the legendary workout, “Murph” on New Year’s Day and set the tone for their fitness achievements all year long. Completing the workout of 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run is an accomplishment in itself. However, in CrossFit we occasionally do workouts to honor those fallen heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be home with our families and friends without fear. CrossFit is more than a workout. CrossFit Palo Alto is more than a gym.

In the summer of 2005, Michael Murphy led a SEAL team on Operation Redwing, a mission in Afghanistan to killor capture Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader. While on the mission, the four men on the team – Murphy, Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson – were discovered in their hiding spot by a group of local goat herders. The team initially detained the herders, but after some debate about whether the locals might betray their location, the SEALs voted to cut them loose. But within the hour, the team was suddenly pinned down in a fierce firefight against upwards of 150 enemy combatants. The herders, it appears, had pointed the Taliban their way.

The SEALs held off the Taliban for hours, but they remained trapped. As Luttrell later recounted:

There were still around eighty of these maniacs coming down at us, and that’s a heck of a lot of enemies. I’m not sure what their casualty rate was, because both Mikey and I estimated Sharmak had thrown 140 men minimum into this fight. Whatever, they were still there, and I was not sure how long Danny could keep going.

Mikey worked his way alongside me and said with vintage Murphy humor, “Man, this really sucks.”

Ultimately, Murphy heroically exposed himself to enemy fire to reach higher ground to call for backup; he was successful, but was shot in the stomach, chest and back. Murphy kept fighting, but didn’t survive the night. Both Dietz and Axelson were also eventually killed over the course of the next couple of hours.

The sole survivor of the battle was Luttrell. Despite suffering severe injuries, he managed to evade capture, and was eventually taken in by Pashtun tribesmen who protected him from Taliban forces until he was rescued by U.S. forces a week later. (Luttrell later wrote a book, “Lone Survivor,” recounting the battle and its aftermath.)

Murphy was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. He was the first member of the Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.

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