Locals carry the weight for fallen soldiers
Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
HYANNIS — Jarrod Paquette guessed his late friend Kevin Houston would have wanted him to relax on the beach Saturday.
Paquette planned on some beach time. But first, he spent 31 grueling minutes lugging a 45-pound sandbag while running, squatting with a 155-pound barbell then thrusting it over his head several times, climbing a rope 15 feet high and repeatedly jumping onto a 30-inch high box.
"I was happy to do it," Paquette said, standing outside the CrossFit gym in Hyannis after the intense workout.
The Hyannis location joined CrossFit gyms across the world taking part in the "31Heroes" workout to honor the 30 military service members — including Houston, a Barnstable native — and one military dog killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.
Houston, a 1994 Barnstable High School graduate and U.S. Navy SEAL, was one of 30 Americans killed when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport vehicle in Wardak province. Eight Afghans also died in the crash.
Paquette and Houston, who was 36 when he died, were lifelong friends.
"There hasn't been a day that's passed (since the fatal crash) that I haven't thought of him or his family," Paquette said.
The Sagamore Beach man has been a member of CrossFit in Plymouth for about a year. He and his girlfriend, a member of the Hyannis gym, performed as a team. There were 19 teams in the event. While one partner ran 400 meters at a time with a sandbag, the other did eight "thrusters" with the barbel, six rope climbs and 11 box jumps. The rep scheme of "8-6-11" was meant to remember the date of the Chinook crash.
When one participant finished his or her sandbag run, the team members would switch roles. This continued until the 31 minutes ran out.
Tom Falkowski did the workout with his daughter, Katie Falkowski, who owns the Hyannis CrossFit. Many people who participated did not know Houston but did the event to honor all those who died, he said.
Paquette said the workout was just one way to remember them, including his friend.
"It's a tip of the hat; it's a remembrance," he said.
Houston played football and basketball at Barnstable High School. He joined the Navy in 1995, soon after graduation.
Money raised in Saturday's event, through registration fees and donations, will be donated to Snowball Express, a charity that helps children of military personnel killed since 9/11; the Travis Manion Foundation, which helps veterans and families of fallen troops; and the memorial funds of each of the people killed in action.