Hero WOD: Sacrificing for Lt. David R. Kingsley

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Emily Copeland
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Panic, fear and adrenaline are often feelings associated with life-changing events. However, during the Ploesti Raid the tail-gunner Staff Sgt. Michael Sullivan, said 2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley had shown no fear, even when his B-17 Flying Fortress was heavily damaged from flak caused by enemy aircraft during the height of World War II.

The B-17 lost altitude after several blows to the engine and body, but Kingsley was still dropping bombs over his targets. During the continued battle, the aircraft had lost another engine and the tail gunner was wounded by shell fragments. When the tail gunner’s parachute was found to be unusable, he gave his up to ensure the member could depart from the plane safely. Due to his unwavering strength and selflessness, on June 23, 1944, Lt. Kingsley lost his life in the aircraft crash near Suhozem, Bulgaria. 

To remember his sacrifice 78 years ago, Team Kingsley’s Health Education Awareness Team (HEAT), worked with the CrossFit Hogback gym in Klamath Falls, Ore. to create a Hero Workout of the Day to share the story of Kingsley and challenge the athletes’ mental and physical resiliency. This event was not held as a competition, but rather a test on each individual’s ability to remain steadfast, even when their body is telling them they should quit.

“We created this workout to incorporate fitness, with our heritage and tradition here at Kingsley Field,” said Senior Master Sgt. Colin Carr, 173rd HEAT Team member. “It’s important to keep the heritage and legacy of DRK alive, especially since he is our base’s namesake, and an unforgettable hero who gave everything he had to his country.”

The DRK Hero WOD was created for individuals with different strength and endurance levels, but the rep scheme was consistent throughout each athlete’s workout. The 6-23-19-44 scheme was to represent the 6th month, 23rd day, and 1944 year of which Kingsley paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the 25 meters represents Kingsley’s age.

“This workout is intended to be tough, but not impossible,” said Carr. “Hero WOD’s are unlike any routine workout, as they are supposed to be harder on you physically and mentally. The idea is to create movements that mimic the hero’s final events, and mentally push yourself knowing what David R. Kingsley went through in his last moments on that flight.”

Some of these movements include weighted Russian kettlebell swings, pull-ups, double and single-unders, leg raises, 25-meter lunges. These exercises were all to be performed as quickly as possible, with minimal stopping or pausing between movements. There were four different skill levels to choose from depending on the individual’s physical abilities.

The goal for each participant was to complete the workout in its entirety and give everything they had, just as Kingsley did.

“Today is a day to remember who David R. Kingsley was and how he gave up his life so others may live,” said Col. Lee Bouma, commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing. “Just as Scott LaBarge said, we largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose. David R. Kingsley was chosen to be our base’s namesake long ago, because he was our hero and someone who we could see ourselves become.”

Kingsley’s family, to include nieces and great, great-nieces were in attendance to participate in the WOD and cheer on the athletes performing the workout as well. If you would like to participate in this DRK Hero WOD, check out the attached link to find the workout details: https://wodwell.com/wod/drk