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A tribute to the fallen: Aviano hosts Memorial Day ‘Murph’ challenge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cary Smith
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A group of ambitious Airmen set their timers as they mentally prepared for the physical challenge they were about to face on a rainy Memorial Day, May 30, 2016, at Aviano Air Base, Italy.


These Aviano Airmen chose to push themselves through a grueling test of strength, called the “Murph,” instead of relaxing during a day off. The workout is named after U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL. Murphy was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 when he left cover to transmit his unit’s coordinates to their headquarters.


“Memorial Day is a day to honor our brothers and sisters who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Zucker, 31st Security Forces Squadron vault storage area supervisor. “The ‘Murph’ challenge was our way to pay respect to those, like Lt. Murphy, who can no longer fight by our side.”


The challenge included a 1-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another 1-mile run to finish.


“The ‘Murph’ is meant to be physically exhausting—and it was,” said Zucker. “It's only so long until your body starts telling you to quit—you just have to push yourself past your limits.”


According to the official CrossFit website, the workout was one of Murphy’s favorites that he called “Body Armor,” as he would wear a 20-pound vest during the exercise. After his death, it was officially renamed as the “Murph” in his honor.


“I wanted to do it as a tribute, because fallen service members have given so much,” said Senior Airman Aaron Stubbs, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management journeyman. “The Navy SEALs are all about challenging themselves, and I felt the best way I could pay tribute was to push myself mentally and physically.”


The workout is one reminder that fallen service member’s names and actions should not be forgotten. As the participants pushed their bodies to exhaustion, they had time to reflect on the importance of Memorial Day.


“Everyone is going to have their own way of honoring and remembering the fallen,” said Zucker. “Without their sacrifice, we would not be here today to continue to protect and serve our country. As long as people understand and respect that, then they have done right.”