“Local athletes have the opportunity to take part in something that has grown into an amazing Memorial Day tribute to a fallen American hero,” said Brian Fussell, owner and lead instructor at IMA/Crossfit in Lebanon.
Since 2014, gyms like IMA/CrossFit – in cooperation with Forged, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans and their families cope during times of recovery –raised nearly $800,000 for the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation through the Murph Challenge campaign. With support and success, the foundation was able to add four additional scholarships in 2016 and currently provides the opportunity to award 22 or more scholarships each year.
“We consider it an honor to be a host gym for this event on Memorial Day. We have participated for several years, but being a host location, it opens the event up to everyone in our community, not just our CrossFit team members,” Fussell said.
The unique Memorial Day tradition will take place again May 29 at IMA/Crossfit at 107 Bay Court in Lebanon, and throughout the U.S. The public is invited to join countless others Americans and register for the Murph Challenge by visiting themurphchallenge.com.
“We will not turn anyone away on Memorial Day, however, we encourage all participants to pre-register on the website so they can get their commemorative Murph Challenge T-shirt,” Fussell said.
“The Murph is more than just a workout; it has become a tradition here at IMA/CrossFit. This workout helps push us, humble us and dedicate a bit of pain and sweat to honor a man who gave everything he had,” Fussell said.
More information is also available at IMA/CrossFit’s Facebook page.
Murphy was a U.S. Navy SEAL officer who was awarded the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. His other posthumous awards include the Silver Star Medal, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor, and the Purple Heart. Murphy was commander of a four-man reconnaissance team, which was on a mission to kill or capture a top Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah, who commanded a group of insurgents known as the “Mountain Tigers,” west of Asadabad.
The team was dropped off by helicopter in a remote, mountainous area east of Asadabad in Kunar Province near the Pakistan border. After an initially successful infiltration, local goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs’ hiding place. Unable to verify any hostile intent from the herders, the team cut them loose. Hostile locals, possibly the goat herders they let pass, alerted nearby Taliban forces, who surrounded and attacked the small group.
After Murphy called for help, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter loaded with reinforcements was dispatched to rescue the team, but was shot down with an rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 personnel aboard; eight SEALs and eight service members from the 160th SOAR. Murphy and two other SEALs were killed in the action. Marcus Luttrell was the only American survivor and eventually rescued after several days of wandering in the mountains and protection from the people of an Afghan village. All three of Murphy’s men were awarded the Navy’s second-highest honor, the Navy Cross, for their part in the battle, making theirs the most decorated Navy SEAL team in history.