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State Sen. Owen Hill, Colorado Springs CrossFit athletes honor fallen soldier with custom workout

Author: Ernest Luning - February 11, 2018 - Updated: February 13, 2018

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Army Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Burke works out at CrossFit SoCo in Colorado Springs in this undated photograph. Burke, who had been assigned to Fort Carson’s 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 20, 2018, during training exercises in California. On Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, members of his CrossFit box held a custom workout named for Burke to commemorate their friend. (Photo provided)

Nearly 200 friends, family members and fellow CrossFit athletes gathered Saturday morning at the CrossFit SoCo gym in Colorado Springs to honor Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Burke with a grueling “hero” workout created in his memory.

Burke, 28, and another soldier, 1st Lt. Clayton R. Cullen, 25, were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 20 during training exercises at Fort Irwin in California.

“Kevin was a CrossFit partner of mine, and he was a friend,” state Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, a CrossFit SoCo member, told Colorado Politics. “He was a badass.”

Hill introduced Burke’s mother, Colleen, and brother Casey, who were on hand, before the workout started.

Athletes at CrossFit SoCo in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, perform “Burke,” a custom workout created to honor Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Burke, who belonged to the gym and was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 20, 2018, during training exercises at Fort Irwin in California. The workout involved multiple rounds of pull-ups, squats and push-ups, followed by a 1-mile run. (Photo courtesty CrossFit SoCo via Facebook)

Burke was stationed at Fort Carson with the Army’s 4th Combat Aviation Brigade and belonged to the gym, known as a “box” in CrossFit parlance. Several of Burke’s squadron mates also participated in the workout.

It’s a tradition for CrossFit athletes to honor fallen service members, law enforcement officers, first responders and others with custom, eponymous “hero” WODs, or workouts of the day.

“Burke,” designed by CrossFit SoCo coaches, involves multiple rounds of pull-ups, squats and push-ups, followed by a 1-mile run. The number of repetitions in the first set of movements, which is performed twice — 15 strict pull-ups, 17 weighted back squats and 26 hand-release pushups — adds up to 58, signifying the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. The number of repetitions in a second set of movements, which is also performed twice — the same exercises, done 17, 19 and 28 times — adds up to 64, representing the AH-64E Longbow Apache. Burke flew both military aircraft.

“We are happy to have served with you and fought beside one of the greatest people we will ever meet,” coaches wrote in a post describing the commemorative workout. “We are proud of your accomplishments in and out of uniform, and we are happy to call you our friend and brother. We love you, we cherish our time together, and we will never forget you.”

State Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, center, helps introduce “Burke,” a custom CrossFit workout, to athletes at CrossFit SoCo in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. The workout was created to honor Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Burke, who belonged to the gym and was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 20, 2018, during training exercises at Fort Irwin in California. It involves multiple rounds of pull-ups, squats and push-ups, followed by a 1-mile run. (Photo courtesty CrossFit SoCo via Facebook)

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.