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#)