To Know a Hero

By Various

In CrossFit, HD Videos, LEO/Mil

April 22, 2013

Video Article

“It was horribly hard (when) I realized I’ve been a widow longer than I’ve been a wife,” says Ann Schmalstieg, an artist and a coach at Oceanside CrossFit.

Her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Justin Schmalstieg, was killed Dec. 15, 2010, while serving in Afghanistan. The 28-year-old bomb-disposal technician had previously served three tours of duty in Iraq. On Dec. 15 in Helmand province, he was clearing a path through a minefield so Marines could get back to base and avoid an anticipated ambush. After his death, he was promoted to gunnery sergeant.

Justin and Ann actually did CrossFit Hero WODs together, and Ann says it was only fitting that her husband is now honored with a Hero WOD of his own. Beginning and ending with an 800-meter run, Schmalls also contains two rounds of 50 burpees, 40 pull-ups, 30 one-legged squats, 20 kettlebell swings and 10 handstand push-ups.

Throughout the course of the video, Ann and members of CrossFit Oceanside talk about what it means to suffer through a Hero WOD to honor the fallen.

“I can honor my husband. I honor my husband all the time. But knowing that other people honor him too, that’s beautiful,” Ann says.

Schmalls is the workout of the day for April 23, 2013.

Video by Gary Roberts.

28min 36sec

HD file size: 1 GB
SD wmv file size: 358 MB
SD mov file size: 419 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: What Would Andy Do? by Emily Beers, published Aug. 17, 2011.

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8 Comments on “To Know a Hero”


wrote …

Dang Gary, that was beautiful. A great tribute to a brave Marine and his lovely family.


wrote …

Thank you for sharing your story. You are an amazing woman.
Beautifully done.


wrote …


A fitting tribute to a hero and a heroine.


wrote …


I just want to say that your obvious skill and talent as a vidoegrapher and editor makes these Videos excellent. Crossfit has gained a great talent and who is able to shine a light on the stories and people who make our community great.

Thank you for bringing this story of heartbreak, strength and gratitude forward for us to experience and appreciate so that we may reflect on the sacrifices of this young man, his family and community have given.


wrote …

Fantastic tribute; thanks to everyone at CrossFit for bringing it to life.


wrote …

One of the better short videos I have seen anywhere. Done very classy and appropriately given the subject.

Ann, I want to wish you and Justin's Family all the best in the future.

-James Ryan


wrote …



wrote …

I was looking for another article and scrolled past this. It has stayed with me since the first time I watched it, thanks for such poignant work, highlighting heroes that walk among us.

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