"The 24"

Saturday Oct 21 2017

The heart-breaking truth about Hero WODs is that we could do several a day, 365 days a year and still not honor all those that should be recognized.  

CrossFit tends to honor heroes of more recent times.  Today we'll honor some from years ago.

Here's a narrative from one of our Marine members, Steve Kaster:

Forty years ago today, October 21, 1977, a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 helicopter crashed during a training exercise on the Philippine island of Mindoro, killing 24 of the 37 onboard. The helicopter was carrying a crew of four as well as 31 Marines and two Navy Corpsmen and all of their combat-load gear. Following instructions passed to them, the ground crew hooked a water bull (also known as a water buffalo - a mobile water tank capable of holding about 400 gallons) onto the helicopter which was already heavily loaded. From what I was told by friends on the ground in the LZ area, as the helicopter attempted to lift-off, there was some type of problem with the tail rotor which caused the helicopter to go into a violent spin. From what I later read, the possibility of problems with the tail rotor in a heavily loaded chopper of this type was a known design flaw. The pilot lost control of the chopper causing the tail rotor to strike the side of a mountain, which resulted in the helicopter rolling down the mountain while bursting into flames. Some of the 13 survivors were thrown out of the chopper while it was in a spin, others were thrown out while it rolled down the mountain.  There were what seemed like valid but unconfirmed reports that one of the crewmen was responsible for throwing some Marines from the helicopter as it lost control.  Some of the survivors were found in the tops of trees. We were told that one of the initial survivors was killed when the tree he was in fell on top of him due to heavy rotor wash by the rescue helicopter trying to get him out of the tree.  

The helicopter involved in the crash was part of what was, at the time, the largest amphibious exercise since WWII, Operation Fortress Lightning (a training exercise).  

I was a Marine doing sea-duty aboard the helicopter carrier, USS New Orleans at the time of the crash.  We were told that the helicopter that crashed was assigned to the New Orleans.  Being a large ship, the New Orleans was one of only a few in this operation with a larger hospital unit aboard.  As such, some of the wounded men were brought aboard the New Orleans.  Marines along with Sailors on board the ship helped carry the wounded to the hospital area.  The 2 Navy Corpsman attached to my company, one of whom was a good friend, along with several of their Navy medical comrades were recognized and decorated for their extraordinary and courageous efforts to save lives that horrible day.  
The Marines killed were with the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment stationed on Okinawa. I was later told by a member of 3/9 that many of the men killed had less than 2 months left in their Okinawa rotation before they would have rotated back to the states.

I’ve pieced together information and names from a variety of sources that tell the story of what happened that day.  However, due to the plane crash that killed members of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band the day before, this story was largely unreported in the media. While I’ve tried to be accurate in the description of what happened that day, some of the published reports and online articles disagree on the number killed and also disagree on some other details.  I’ve read reports of between 13 and 35 killed.  There were survivors, so I don’t think it was 35 – but it was more than 13. One source from the National Museum of the Marines reports the number as 31. In the end, we would all agree that 1 death is one too many. Also, while much of this narrative was taken from those articles and online sources, I remember our company being told the next day that 24 men were killed, making it one of the worst accidents in Marine Corps history. Unfortunately, we were never told if any of the survivors died later.  Most of the articles I’ve read report the number as 24.  One of the men killed was a friend I met in boot camp who was from the Two Rivers / Manitowoc area, PFC Bauer. 

Rest in Peace, Brothers. You are not forgotten. Semper Fi.

  • Capt. J. L. Crapse
  • Capt. G. M. Gebhardt
  • Sgt. D. G. Smith
  • Sgt. C. W. Anderson
  • Sgt. W. E. Casey
  • Cpl. O. Hallam
  • Cpl. R. N. Bennett
  • Cpl. L. H. Ernsberger Jr.
  • LCpl. F. R. Aguirre
  • LCpl. A. R. Baker
  • LCpl. A. R. Dicag
  • LCpl. A. Suda Jr.
  • LCpl. S. R. Bowman
  • LCpl. M. L. Fitzpatrick
  • LCpl. H. J. Layne
  • LCpl. M. L. Quiane
  • LCpl. J. L. West
  • PFC J. P. Bauer
  • PFC K. M. Brinkley
  • PFC B. I. Jones
  • PFC M. A. Lafferre
  • PFC K. K. Schwartz
  • PFC D. A. Wright
  • HA S. R. Dolan (USN)
Please join us for our free community WOD at 8:15am and possibly you'll get to experience your first HERO WOD. 

1.) “The 24”
For time
Wearing weight vest:
24 Rounds
3 Strict Pullups
5 Push Ups
7 Situps
100m Run
*2.) 30 minutes Row
30 seconds Max Effort Meters
30 Seconds Rest
Note: record total meters

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Megan Vogel849d

Have practice tomorrow during all workouts. For the max effort meters - the strokes per minute can be high right?

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Grant Soletski849d

Sure but try to keep them as low as possible all the while keeping that pace super fast

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Megan Vogel849d


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Sylvia Christensen849d

Thanks for sharing the story Steve!

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Running around at Kewaunee CC Sectionals
Logged 3.1 miles
32:29 vested
34:10 no vest
Plank for sit-ups. All pull-ups and push-ups strict.
27:32 no vest
26:44 w/ vest
Thanks for the talk Steve
Mix pull-ups and chin-ups
33:57 no vest
29:21 vest
31:14 vested
Banded SPU.
39:45 No vest
Team of 3 with my boys, 8rounds each. RIP 🇺🇸
35:20 no vest
1:40-1:43 500m pace. Had to practice with the team after...so didn’t get to “the 24”.
32:05 wearing 20# vest
Lots of fun. Thanks Steve ❤️
36:40 ( no vest) banded pullups, some pushups from knees
Free wod
29:48 (no vest)
43:56 w/vest sub ring rows for pull-ups
. Thanks to all who attended - I appreciate it! Thanks Justin for a great WOD design. RIP brothers, Semper Fi
36:40 scaled AF
First half with vest. Band for PUS and air squats for sit-ups.. #stupidstomach
35:40 w Vest