Inaugural Murph Workout at Mike’s House

Let the pilgrimage begin

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“They gave up their tomorrows for our todays,” Dan Murphy declared this Memorial Day at the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum. Dan Murphy, the Gold Star father of Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy, in whose name the museum was built, also remarked that each Memorial Day, athletes take on the brutality of a Murph Workout as a tribute not just to his son, but to all of the fallen.

The Memorial Day Murph Workout has been done worldwide by thousands of athletes to honor veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. This was the first time the Murph Workout was done where it all started, at Mike’s House, the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum. 

Over 200 CrossFit athletes gathered this Memorial Day at the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum to perform the inaugural tribute. The museum was completed this past June.  The hope is that one day, athletes will make a pilgrimage to the museum to pay tribute by completing their Murph Workout at Mike’s House.

No one won the inaugural Murph Workout at Mike’s House. You never do. The goal is for all of the athletes just to survive… and hopefully, complete it!

After the grueling event, a crowd gathered on-site for the installation of a monument designed to complement a similar monument at MacArthur Airport. This monument was donated by the Ronkonkoma Rotary. It was created by local businessman and craftsman, Tom Fricke, to recognize Michael Murphy and the other 18 soldiers who perished on June 28, 2005 at Operation Red Wings, in Afghanistan.

Some of the museum’s most fervent supporters were on hand to celebrate the installation.  Supporters included Michael Murphy’s Gold Star family: his mother, Maureen; father, Dan; and brother, John. Also on hand was county executive, Steve Bellone. The museum would not have been built if not for Bellone, Dan Murphy remarked. Another key speaker was Navy SEAL Mike Sauers, whose company, Forged, is among the museum’s and the Murph Foundation’s most generous supporters. Sauers came all the way from California to attend.

“Body Armor.” That’s what Michael Murphy called the grueling workout he invented as part of his SEAL training. If you don’t find the opening mile painful, you will be sufficiently punished after completing the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and 1-mile run to complete the workout.  And if you have a particular penchant for flagellation, or if you want to train as Murphy did, you complete the workout in a 20-pound vest! Many did.

Since 2007, each Memorial Day, CrossFit athletes from around the world complete a Murph Workout. Athletes take on the suffering of the workout as a tribute to their hero, Lt. Michael P. Murphy. It’s actually a tribute to all veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Completing Michael Murphy’s Body Armor workout as a community event goes a little further back, to a time right after Operation Red Wings. On Aug. 17, 2005, CrossFit posted the workout to their website as the Workout of the Day (WOD).  That was just over a month after Murphy gave his life when he “unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life” stepped from cover to make a distress call to save his team at Operation Red Wings (June 28, 2005), according to the U.S. Navy.  Murphy was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for his bravery—the first sailor since Vietnam and the only Penn State graduate to be so recognized.

Two years after Operation Red Wings, in 2007, Dr. Joshua Appel gathered between 13 to 15 athletes to complete a Murph Workout at a gym in Albany, N.Y., on Memorial Day.  In 2010, after three years of trading in beers and burgers to complete a Murph Workout, Dr. Appel approached Dan Murphy, Michael’s father, about making the Murph Workout an annual event.  The rest is history.

Honoring Michael Murphy’s legacy was important to Appel. He was the team leader for the Air Force pararescue team that received Murphy’s distress call. Appel’s team saved the lone survivor of Operation Red Wings, Marcus Luttrell.  They also recovered the lifeless Murphy and remainder of his immediate team, including Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson, and the eight additional SEALS and eight Army Night Stalker service members lost in Operation Red Wings.

The workout continues to grow worldwide. Nearly 8,000 athletes participated in 2011. Ten thousand completed it in 2012. Nearly 38,000 participants completed it last year. Mike Sauer’s Forged CrossFit and, most importantly, the powerful life story of Michael Murphy, are to be thanked for the popularity of the workout.

Since 2014, Forged has raised over $2,000,000 for the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Forged also stepped up at a critical time, donating $300,000 during the pandemic to put the finishing touches on the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum.

Scholarships in Michael Murphy’s name have been awarded to Patchogue-Medford, Shoreham Wading River and Rocky Point high school students and many others.  The newest Michael Murphy scholarship is in memory of NYPD Sgt. James Bast, a longtime Sayville resident and Little League coach who led Mayor Bloomberg’s security detail in retirement. One graduating Sayville High School recipient will be honored by the Sayville Michael Murphy Team and Maureen Murphy, Michael’s mother, at the school’s awards night on June 7.

The sentiment of the day was best captured by Michael Murphy’s roommate from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUDS, Kaj Larsen.  BUDS’ low pass rate (20 percent) makes it the most demanding training in the world. They call it Hell Week for a reason.

Right before the first heat of the Murph Workout, Larsen addressed the crowd.

“When I turned into the museum and I saw all those flags, it hit me. It took ahold of me. I was overcome with emotion. I didn’t know that was going to happen. Mike and I, we were roommates at BUDS 20 years ago,” he said. “But even after all that time…” Larsen’s voice trailed off. He didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he left all that emotion—along with plenty of sweat and tears—on the course. He completed his Murph Workout at Mike’s House. It meant a lot to him.  It means a lot to all of us.

For more photos of the event throughout the day, click here.