LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Forward Operating Base Gamberi fitness community showed up in solidarity to participate “Crossfit For Hope,” July 5.
Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, and civilian contractors who enjoy participating in Crossfit took part in the annual event.
According to the web site, the workout is conducted by athletes worldwide on the same day to raise awareness of the fight against children’s cancer and other illnesses.
“Crossfit affiliates across the world on the 5th of July are all going to do this work out,” said Lt. Col. William T. Johnson, commander of the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.
The native of Richmond, Va., said what drew him to take part in “Crossfit For Hope,” was the fact that it raised money for a children’s charity. Johnson said all profits go directly from Hope for Cures to chosen organizations that help find a cure for childrens’ illnesses.
He mentioned that each of the participants wore a small black ribbon pinned to the front left side of their shirt in remembrance of U.S. Army Spc. Hilda Clayton, a combat documentation/production specialist who was killed while taking pictures of Afghan National Army soldiers during a live-fire training exercise, July 2. The mortar weapon system the ANA soldiers were using failed, resulting in an explosion that killed three ANA soldiers and Clayton.
Clayton, of Augusta, Ga., was attached to the 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., to document the development of the Afghan National Security Forces and she died doing exactly that. Her images have been featured on Department of Defense and Department of the Army websites as well as in print stories read around the world.
“We knew Spc. Clayton enjoyed taking pictures and participating in Crossfit, so we wore the ribbon in remembrance of her. It gave us all a little bit of extra motivation for the workout today,” said Johnson.
The outdoor workout involved five-minute rounds with a one-minute break before repeating. The clock does not reset or stop between exercises. Upon the word "rotate," the athletes move to the next station with one point given for each repetition. They all received a safety brief and a demonstration on how to properly perform each exercise before the event.
Johnson said the high temperature in the afternoon was a factor on why they began the workout at seven in the morning.
“It was a lot of fun getting everybody out here to participate for such a worthy cause,” said Capt. Victor Montellano, a logistics officer, assigned to the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.
The native of Glen Rose, Texas, helped coordinate and promote the event. He said even though it is a friendly competition once people start competing against one another it gets to be pretty fun. Montellano has been participating in Crossfit for the last two and half years and said it never gets old.
“It’s a great workout, it keeps guys in shape,” said Montellano. “Crossfit is fun and brings people together.”
U.S. Army Spc. Samuel Hock, an infantryman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., who also participated in the event said it was good training. The native of Houston, Texas, said he started Crossfit when he got to Afghanistan almost nine months ago. Hock recommended everyone try Crossfit, adding that it will be painful at first.
“It’s tough, the weights are light but it is all about having the proper form and technique,” said Hock. “If you can master that, you are good.”
The one-minute exercises included three rounds of burpees, power snatch, box jumps, thrusters, chest to bar pull-ups and finally resting for one minute.
“We came out here early in the morning and it sucked,” said Hock, jokingly. “I am glad I came out here and did it.”