KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – When soldiers die in combat they not only leave grieving families, but also their brothers and sisters in arms. For those brothers and sisters, honoring their fallen comrades can manifest through various outlets: building memorials, getting tattoos or wearing bracelets. One soldier decided to honor the fallen soldiers from the Warhorse brigade through motivation and sweat.
Staff Sgt. Casey McEuin, the future-operations non-commissioned officer in charge with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, organized the Warhorse Crossfit Challenge held at Camp Nathan Smith, April 8.
“We have lost great soldiers and I want them to be more than a memory,” said McEuin. “Above everything else, I wanted people to have selfless service and sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
The challenge, designed by McEuin, consisted of five events: 20 wall balls, 20 pullups and 10 toes-to-bar, 20 burpee box jumps, 15 deadlifts and a 200 meter tire carry with two laps ran between each station totaling a 5K run. Each exercise event was dedicated to fallen soldiers, whose pictures were visible at the station as motivation for competing soldiers to work through the physical pain.
"No matter how tired we were, seeing pictures of Josh and Drew [two of the fallen soldiers] helped me and my team push through,” said Capt. Ashley Russell, the officer in charge of female engagement teams. “This was our little way of giving back to two guys who gave up everything for us."
“I wanted [the fallen soldiers] to be the motivation to finish each event which is what happened,” McEuin said. “Nobody quit and nobody gave up.”
“It was my honor to participate, not get lapped, and watch everybody finish,” said Col. John S. Kolasheski, the brigade commander. “I think it was a phenomenal event and I appreciate everybody’s participation and everybody’s motivation, in particular because we are honoring our fallen heroes.”
The challenge was open to everyone within the brigade. Teams consisted of five members with at least one woman. A total of 27 teams participated from all across the brigade and one team included an Afghan partner.
“I was proud to have [Afghan National Security Force] partners attend to honor our soldiers,” McEuin said. “His presence shed light on the fact that we are sacrificing together.”
“It was my honor to compete and show that we are strong together as a team,” said 2nd Sgt. Qutubullah with the 2nd Brigade Afghan National Civil Order Police.
“I think it’s pretty exciting for all of us to come together,” said Lt. Thomas Olmstead, a platoon leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division, and a member of the winning team who came from the Arghandab to compete. “We are all spread out but we were able to make a day of it, come here to participate and support each other.”
The event not only honored fallen soldiers it also allowed for friendly competition among soldiers.
"For me, the most amazing part of the competition was the spirit in which everyone performed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Spencer Polwort, the fire support non-commissioned officer in charge for the brigade. “At each station, everyone was taking a moment to remember those who are no longer with us, and who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It made you even more proud to serve with these heroes, and to push even harder."
“Every team that competed showed nothing but motivation and teamwork,” said Sgt. Maria Johnson, a paralegal with the brigade. “It was not a matter of crossing the finish line first, it was a matter of crossing the finish line together: no one gets left behind nor forgotten."
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This work, Warhorse soldiers honor fallen through Crossfit, by SSG Ruth Pagan, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.