• The faces and stories of 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog killed in action Aug. 6, 2011, line a volleyball court, Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. Nearly 25 service members and civilians turned out to complete the '31 Heroes' CrossFit event.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    The faces and stories of 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog killed in action Aug. 6, 2011, line a volleyball court, Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. Nearly 25 service members and civilians turned out to...

  • Sgt. Sonia Reyes, IJC executive administrative assistant, completes a towel pull up during the '31 Heroes' workout Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. The workout, sponsored by the Navy SEAL Foundation and CrossFit gyms around the globe, serves as a 'moment of silence' for those lost Aug. 6.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    Sgt. Sonia Reyes, IJC executive administrative assistant, completes a towel pull up during the '31 Heroes' workout Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. The workout, sponsored by the Navy SEAL Foundation and CrossFit gyms around...

  • Staff Sgt. Jessica Bezanson prepares to do a thrust Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, 2011. Thrusters are one part of a circuit exercise, dubbed '31 Heroes,' being done globally on this day in memory of the 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog killed in action Aug. 6.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    Staff Sgt. Jessica Bezanson prepares to do a thrust Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, 2011. Thrusters are one part of a circuit exercise, dubbed '31 Heroes,' being done globally on this day in memory of the 30 U.S. service members and one...

  • With all his might, Staff Sgt. Randall Johnson, IJC Joint Visitors Bureau non-commissioned officer in charge, pulls himself up during the '31 Heroes' WOD at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2011.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    With all his might, Staff Sgt. Randall Johnson, IJC Joint Visitors Bureau non-commissioned officer in charge, pulls himself up during the '31 Heroes' WOD at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2011.

  • Pushing his body to the max, Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Irvin, IJC Signal Current Operations Chief, prepares to complete a "thrust" during 31 Heroes, Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    Pushing his body to the max, Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Irvin, IJC Signal Current Operations Chief, prepares to complete a "thrust" during 31 Heroes, Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan.

  • Sgt. 1st Class Adam Bezanson, ISAF Joint Command facilities manager and one of the '31 Heroes' organizers, lifts his body up to complete a towel pull-up during the 31-minute Hero workout of the day Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    Sgt. 1st Class Adam Bezanson, ISAF Joint Command facilities manager and one of the '31 Heroes' organizers, lifts his body up to complete a towel pull-up during the 31-minute Hero workout of the day Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport...

  • The faces and stories of 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog killed in action Aug. 6 line a volleyball court, Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. Nearly 25 service members and civilians turned out to complete the '31 Heroes' CrossFit event.

    '31 Heroes': Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

    The faces and stories of 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog killed in action Aug. 6 line a volleyball court, Sept. 3, 2011, at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan. Nearly 25 service members and civilians turned out to...

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept 4, 2011 -- The only requirement was to give your all -- 31 minutes for 31 heroes. For the Soldiers, Airmen and civilians gathered at Kabul International Airport, Sept. 3, this physical training day left no room for the faint of heart.

Quitting wasn't an option in this memorial service that was unlike any other. The men and women at KAIA gathered to share their sweat and pain during a CrossFit workout, called '31 Heroes.'

They joined countless other CrossFit enthusiasts who, on this day, dedicated their workout to the 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog who made the ultimate sacrifice Aug. 6, when their helicopter crashed during a mission in eastern Afghanistan.

All service members on board were killed, as well as seven Afghan commandos and one Afghan interpreter. It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

The event, sponsored by the Navy SEAL Foundation, will serve as a "version of the 'moment of silence,'" according to their website.

Regardless of the location, all participants will perform the same workout, which is a non-stop, 31-minute test of physical and emotional will.

"All the pain and anguish during this workout doesn't even compare to what those we are honoring went through," said Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Irvin.

Irvin was one of the event's coordinators and the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Signal Current Operations Chief.

"They knew every time they went out on mission, there was the distinct possibility of dying and they went anyway," he added. "I'm proud we are able to honor them like this."

The workout of the day, known as a WOD, was carried out in two-man teams. While one team member ran 400 meters, carrying a sandbag that weighed up to 45 pounds, the other team member worked through a circuit of exercises. Each complete circuit, known as a rep, consisted of eight thrusters of up to 155 pounds, 11 box jumps and six rope climbs.

With limited equipment in very austere conditions, creativity was key, said Staff Sgt. Jessica Bezanson, a CrossFit Level 1 certified trainer and enlisted aide to the IJC commanding general.

A towel was draped over a pull-up bar to mimic the movement of climbing a rope, requiring a team member to alternate arms while pulling themselves up without using their legs; 90 towel pull-ups equated to the required six rope climbs. Ammunition cans were used as a substitute for sandbags, and tires were used for box jumps.

For Bezanson, the day's WOD was a bit more personal, and the pain was bittersweet.

"Of all the Hero WODs we've done out here, this one meant the most. I heard about (the incident) an hour after it happened. I was here. I felt the impact of it," she said. "It made me work harder. I pushed myself harder today."

In the days following the incident, on this particular day and in all the days to come, the memory of those 31 heroes will not be forgotten.

According to the Navy SEAL Foundation website, all proceeds raised from the global event will be given to the families affected by this tragedy.

'31 Heroes' pays tribute to the following fallen U.S. service members:

Army Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash.
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, Calif.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, N.C.
Army Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo.
Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah
Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb.
Army Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn.
Army Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Mass.
Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La.
Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas
Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va.
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, Calif.
Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Mich.
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minn.
Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa.
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Fla.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii
Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.

Also killed was Bart, a U.S. military working dog.

Page last updated Tue September 6th, 2011 at 10:44