As Global Brand Manager for CrossFit, Inc., Jimi Letchford has spent the last decade focusing on not only growing the international presence of CrossFit, but also understanding what motivates members to come together for these empowering workouts. He shared with TMF how the CrossFit community’s roots are strongly tied to our military community:
The CrossFit Community is an extremely diverse group. It consists of every age and ability level imaginable. While our Workout of the Day (WOD) is programmed to challenge every one of these levels, we save our most difficult for our “Hero WODs.” These WODs are named in honor of military and first responders who died in the line of duty. For these workouts, we come together as a community to pay homage to these heroes’ sacrifices.
Twelve years after his death, Marine 1stLt Travis Manion is still inspiring CrossFitters and all other Americans to understand true sacrifice.
"Travis was the type of person who was big in the little things."
He was a decorated athlete and scholar throughout his life because he dedicated himself to his craft, and prepared for what was to come. Travis especially excelled in football and wrestling, and went on to become an All-American while wrestling at the United States Naval Academy.
I met Travis while we were both wrestlers at USNA, where we tested our physical and mental capacities as Midshipmen Division I athletes. I remember numerous times that Travis popped into my room after 11 p.m. encouraging me to run an “Outer”—a run loop that hugs the boundaries of the Yard. Travis knew I hated to run but he also knew he was pushing me, leading me to excel on the wrestling mat.
Upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy, Travis was awarded a commission into the United States Marine Corps. He would go on to finish at the top of his class from the Basic School in Quantico, VA, and was then assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California, with which he deployed to Iraq for his first tour of duty.
Travis was scheduled to return to Iraq for a second tour just after Christmas, and his brother-in-law questioned why he specifically needed to go back. Without hesitation Travis replied with five words that define how he lived his life: “If Not Me, Then Who…” Meaning, if he didn’t go back, then someone less prepared for the job at hand would have to go in his place.
On April 29, 2007, 1stLt Travis Manion, his fellow Marines and Iraqi Army counterparts were ambushed while searching a suspected insurgent house in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. While leading the counterattack against the enemy, Travis was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper while drawing fire away from his wounded teammates – all of whom survived because of his selfless actions.
So on April 28th of this year, our CrossFit community will come together in gyms across the country to do the “Manion” Hero WOD. Thousands of athletes will put themselves through the rigors of this intense workout, and when they begin to hit that wall of exhaustion, they’ll think about Travis and all he sacrificed. They’ll think about the character he lived with day in and day out. They’ll ask themselves “If Not Me, Then Who…” and will push forward to reach limits they never knew possible. Travis lived every day with character, and I’m in awe of the amazing work being done by the Foundation that bears his name. Travis Manion Foundation is empowering veterans and families of the fallen to develop that same character in our next generation, as a way to honor Travis and all our fallen heroes. His legacy is one that I’m proud to help carry on, just as I was proud to serve side by side with him before his death. So we now challenge gym owners across the country to register for the Manion Hero WOD, and join us in honoring and carrying on the “If Not Me, Then Who…” movement.
Interested gym owners, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
001 60,000+ Veterans + Survivors Empowered
002 100,000+ Spartan Members
003 250,000+ Youth Living "If Not Me, Then Who..." Movement