220 E. Cota St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101


CrossFitters all over the world pay tribute to Michael Murphy every Memorial Day by doing his WOD – “Murph”.  It’s definitely one of our hardest workouts and is both feared and revered equally.  (It shouldn’t be that big of a stretch to figure out what we’re all doing come 10 O’clock on Monday morning.  Eric and I figured that more people would be reading a post today than on Monday and I think that this is an important one to read, thus today’s posting.) Below we have the very rare opportunity as to hear about the man behind this infamous workout and to do so from one of our very own.  Here’s Brett sharing his experiences with CrossFit’s most famous man.

The Man Behind Murph

Anyone who has been CrossFitting for a few months fears, hates or hides from Murph. That is because Murph as a WOD is a long, arduous, painful, grind that exhausts just about every muscle in your body. Just when you think you’re finished you have to run that one last mile. It’s actually that second mile that makes me think a lot about Murph’s last stand. You see, Murph to me is more then just a hard WOD, he was a good friend. I was in BUD/s with Murphy until a leg injury rolled him out of our class. I would still see him around the training compound but didn’t spend much time with him until we both found ourselves in Djibouti, Africa in the late summer of 2003.

We were both in Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and had our daily duties so we didn’t see each other very much during the day.  At night we generally had a fair amount of down time and since we both liked to stay up late, we found ourselves in the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) telling war stories, writing emails and calling home. It was at this time that I really got to know Murphy. We spent hours talking about our lives back home and the different training we had gone through. We compared operations of SEAL Team Five and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1. I learned a lot about SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDVs); life in Hawaii, island fever, his girl Heather and Murphy himself.

Meanwhile, I had a family member back home that was sick and not getting better. It weighed heavily on my mind and when it was too overwhelming Murphy was there for me to calm me down.  He would tell me everything is going to be OK, and work to cheer me up. Never once did I feel a strain in our friendship because he was an officer and I was enlisted. That was the thing about him; he was just one of the boys. I felt as if he would happily do anything for me if I ever asked and at the end of my deployment he invited me to come to Hawaii when we both got home and had some time off. A trip I regret I never took.

Two years later on June 28th, 2005 Murphy led a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan that was compromised and overrun by hundreds of Taliban fighters. In an effort to save his boys Murphy took his mobile phone…

“…walked to open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ….I could hear him talking, ‘My men are taking heavy fire … we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here … we need help.’ And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear. ‘Roger that, sir. Thank you,’ then Mikey continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.”

–Marcus Luttrell, The Lone Survivor.

On October of 2007 Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is the highest award any service member can receive – President Bush awarded it to Murphy’s family.

It is during that last mile of Muph that I think about fighting through the pain, I think about my friend Michael Murphy and the 10 other SEALs that lost their lives that day.

Friends, Brothers, I will never forget.

–  Brett Vernon

5 Rounds for Time of:
400 M Run
15 Overhead Squats (95#/65#)



  1. Brett, I am so glad you shared this! It’s so easy to forget there are heroic stories behind the names, and humans whose memories are honored by the family and friends who love them. It speaks to one of the core values of CrossFit that I love: it’s never just about me. Excellent post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for this Brett. There is now a destroyer bearing his name. http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2011-05-08-seal-hero-warship_n.htm

    And thank you for your service Brett (and Otsen and Augie and I might be forgetting someone; if so, please let me know).


  3. Thank you Brett! That’s a wonderful memorial to your great friend and soldier in arms Murphy. Although I will not have the honor to do Murph on Monday, I will make sure to take a moment, salute the flag, and say a prayer for our men and women who have serverd and are serving to protect our freedom.

  4. Amazing Brett. Gave me chills. Thanks so much for sharing. Semper fi. Aug

  5. You’re a great spirit Brett. Thank you for giving us more perspective.
    To Murph!

  6. Thanks guys, glad you liked it and I look forward to seeing you on Monday at 10am.

  7. Proud to Know two important people in Lt. Michael Murphy’s short life on Earth. His Mother and Dad.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve read and re-read SEAL of Honor and I am always speechless about Mike and bravery.

  9. Brett, It was good to here your personal experiences with with man who at a very early age always looked out for the needs of others first. I’m a electrician at Bath Iron Works where we are building the Michael Murphy. I was honored to give the Murphy’s a tour of our ship and asked them if I could make my Trek across Maine (180 mi. bike trip) a tribute to Micheal and the finest men the U.S.NAVY has to offer the U.S.SEALS. Well, they have entrusted me with carrying some special personal items of Michaels on this trek across the great state of Maine. I told Maureen Murphy and Michaels younger brother John that “because of U.S. SEALS, we can breathe a little easier” which is a mission of the Amecan Lung Association. That’s the organization that will benefit from this endevour. Today, my wife Karen,(she’s riding the Trek also) myself and 20 others rode 44 mi. to get ready for the June 17-19 ride tomorrow we’re heading out to the coast for a 35 mi. loop. Please feel free to go to this site and join me in a tribute for a true American Hero. (http://action.lungusa.org/goto/TERRYSMITH) Before the Murphys left my tour of thier sons ship, Micheals mother gave me a big hug a kiss on my cheek and said God Bless you. She says even though Michael is passed on she takes comfort in knowing that Micheal always brings out the best in people.

  10. Thanks for posting this, and I just thanked my friend who shared it with me. I know this is somewhat unrelated to this post, but I found a great link the other today to the ongoing memory of this great hero, Michael Murphy: http://www.medalofhonornews.com/2011/05/navy-will-christen-uss-michael-murphy.html
    Hooyah, and thank you!


  11. Hi, Brett, Thank you for that very moving story. It is so easy to forget what Memorial Day is all about. We are blessed to have so many dedicated soldiers protecting our freedom and this is the one day we should take the time to thank you and your fellow sisters and brothers in the Armed Services. We are keeping your Mom’s pride and love alive.
    Auntie KD

Leave a Reply