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Honoring Bradley

CrossFit pays tribute to the fallen with Hero WODs. This Veterans Day our resident grinder honors Bradley R. Smith.

CrossFit has always done a solid job honoring the memories of fallen members of the military, firefighter and law-enforcement communities.

This past weekend, my affiliate took part in a Hero Workout — “Bradley” — named after Bradley R. Smith of Troy, Illinois. The workout was 10 rounds of a 100-meter run, 10 pull-ups, 100-meter run, 10 burpees, with a 30-second rest after each round. On Saturday, along with CrossFit 557, we did this workout as a partner competition in which each person would complete a round and then rest while their partner completed one. The Rx version of the competition would then require the pairs to complete 20 total rounds. The workout was a real grinder; my partner and I finished it just past the 40-minute mark.

But more important than completing the workout is understanding the type of man for which it was named.

Shane McBride of CrossFit 557, a former high school football teammate of Bradley at Triad High School in Troy, knew about Bradley’s toughness and big heart long before he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

“He had the biggest heart of anybody on our team,” McBride said. “Bradley was such a selfless person. He didn’t always start on the football team, but he was so active and engaged on the sidelines when he wasn’t in the game. If Coach needed someone to play special teams or to sub in, Bradley always wanted to do it. He didn’t care about playing time or if he was going to take a beating on the kickoff team, he just wanted to help the team win.”

After graduation, his selflessness extended to his time in the U.S. Air Force. According to his memorial website:

On January 3, 2010, while on a dismounted area reconnaissance patrol in the vicinity of Badvan village, his 13-man platoon-sized element was attacked by indirect mortar fire and an improvised explosive device. The initial attack threw an Airman and a Soldier into an adjacent creek, critically wounding the Airman and mortally wounding the Soldier. A second Soldier was mortally wounded and thrown 200 meters across the village by the blast. Airman Smith, without regard to his own safety, immediately rushed from his covered position, and into the waist-high water of the creek to save his fellow Airman and recover the killed Soldier. After moving the victims of the improvised explosive device attack to the Casualty Collection Point, Airman Smith volunteered to retrieve the soldier thrown across the village. Determined to never leave a comrade behind, Airman Smith proceeded at extreme risk, and without regard to his personal safety, along the eastern edge of the village to the Soldier’s remains. Airman Smith retrieved the fallen Soldier and began maneuvering back through the village toward the extraction site. Airman Smith waded back through the waist-high creek and proceeded toward the Casualty Collection Point. Upon arrival, a second Improvised Explosive Device detonated, killing Airman Smith and the platoon medic instantly.


McBride was working as a personal trainer at the time and had just begun to dabble in CrossFit training, using as the main source of his programming. He was shocked to see the name of his old teammate appear on the main site’s page for the workout of the day.

“I looked at the name and my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it,” McBride said. “They had named a workout after Bradley, and I knew that I had to do it.”

During that time, McBride was training a variety of personal clients, including Bradley’s father.

“I told Bradley’s dad that if I ever opened my own CrossFit box, I wanted to do that workout and do something to help remember Bradley. So that’s what I did,” McBride said.

Last weekend marked the second Annual Bradley R. Smith Memorial Workout hosted by CrossFit 557. McBride is happy to be a part of it and help in any way he can to honor his friend, and he was excited to see it grow.

“The first year, we had about 70 teams sign up, and this year, it was about the same. But the cool thing is that two affiliates decided to make it their Saturday workout, too, and raised some money. Now we are planning on expanding it next year so other boxes can host their own events remotely,” McBride said.

If your box would like to get involved, contact them through their site at or call (618) 791-0004. If you’d like to learn more about Bradley Smith and his scholarship fund, visit

It’s important to take time on Veterans Day and remember or recognize our country’s veterans. At CrossFit, many people around the world will take part in workouts inspired by the lives of military heroes. If you haven’t picked one to do at your affiliate, I would suggest giving Bradley a try. He’s definitely worthy of your efforts.

What WOD does your box do for Veterans Day? What does doing a workout to remember a fallen military hero mean to you?

Stay on the Grind.