FORT KNOX, Ky. –
The world’s fittest man was covered with sweat and dust by the time he finished a one day visit to Fort Benning Georgia.
It was an action-packed schedule for world CrossFit Champion Rich Froning. After firing a few rounds with the Army Marksmanship Unit, whisking down a zip line from a 34-foot airborne tower and pushing through a gut-wrenching Darby obstacle course, he paused to reflect on his latest Army experience.
“Everything has been incredible,” Froning said. “I learned a few tips on shooting from all the Soldiers at Army Marksmanship Unit. Then I had a ton of fun of jumping out of the 30-foot airborne tower; then coming over here and getting my butt kicked on the Darby Queen.”
That’s just what the Army wanted. Froning visited Fort Benning Oct. 19 to gain a unique Army experience to share with his fans and followers across the nation. Recently, the CrossFit champion did a tandem jump with the Army Golden Knights at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The U.S. Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade (USAMEB) at Fort Knox, Ky, is the Army’s only brigade dedicated to marketing in direct support of recruiting. The unit includes the Army Marksmanship Unit, Army Parachute Team, and the Army Mission Support Battalion.
The brigade is pioneering the use of social media influencers to broaden the nation’s awareness of what it means to be a Soldier. The goal is to engage influencers to tell their stories at the national level, driving interest in the Army as the military service of choice. More than 270,000 people follow Froning on YouTube. On Nov. 6, the brigade enlisted Frank Mir, mixed martial arts champion, and Nick Best, internationally known strongman and powerlifter. Mir has 233,000 followers on Instagram. Best maintains a following of 369,000 people on Twitter alone.
During Froning’s visit at the Army Marksmanship Unit, Commander Lt. Col. Eric Andreasen watched Froning interact with his Soldiers.
“It’s really great to have Rich Froning and his crew out here,” Andreasen said. “Here at AMU we focus on fundamentals of shooting but fitness is a big part of what we do. Being able to blend the speed and accuracy of our shooting with his fitness programs is just exceptional.”
The Army Marksmanship Unit is known as the Home of Champions, according to AMU accessions liaison Sgt. 1st Class George Norton. The unit was formed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to compete with the Soviets in marksmanship competition and raise the level of marksmanship training across the United States. AMU Soldiers compete nationally and internationally, with four Soldiers making last year’s Olympic team. The unit has so many trophies they have to store them in the attic.
Sometimes you have to be a champion to appreciate the dedication and sweat that goes into working up through the ranks to seize a podium spot, Norton said.
“It’s exciting to have a champion from another sport come in and interact at that same level,” Norton said. “He’s won the CrossFit games four times. So he gets to interact with national champions that are of the same caliber. I know that he’s able to understand and respect the time and dedication that goes into what we do. And we have the same respect for him.”
During lunch at the Airborne dining facility, Froning took time to meet with the Soldiers in training. Soldiers in training recognized the champion and came up for autographs and just talk.
“It’s just good to meet with the men and women who keep us safe,” Froning said. “It just reinforces that we’re all in good hands.”