Men's fitness group works out to honor Midlands soldier killed in Afghanistan 5 years ago

Source: Glen Bramlitt
Source: Glen Bramlitt

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was raining.

They were tired.

Some were sore from a previous workout. A few even nursing injuries.

None of that mattered.

They showed up in droves at 5:30 in the morning.

All to honor a Midlands man no longer with us.

It was five years ago Tuesday when three U.S. service members from South Carolina were killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

First Lieutenant Ryan Rawl of Lexington, Specialist John Meador of Columbia and Sergeant First Class Thomas Matthew of Easley all died in the explosion while serving with the 133rd Military Police Company, South Carolina Army National Guard.

Exactly five years later, their sacrifice has not been forgotten.

Tuesday morning, a Midlands men's fitness group honored the legacy of Lt. Rawl during its early-morning workout. About 75 members of F3 Lake Murray honored Rawl during their workout at Ballentine Park.

"We're remembering those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, particularly Ryan Rawl from Lexington," SC Representative and F3 member Nathan Ballentine said. "It's all about remembering sacrifice and what they do to keep us free to allow us to do what we do each and every day."

F3 stands for Fitness, Fellowship and Faith. Two men founded F3 in Charlotte in 2011. Since then, it has grown nationwide. It has been active in the Midlands for more than four years.

Rawl also was a Richland County Sheriff's deputy and a school resource officer in Columbia. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott also participated in the workout.

"We were hurtin' out on the field. It was a painful workout," Lott said. "We all told each other that it doesn't amount to anything close to the pain that he felt and the pain that his family continues to feel everyday. And so we want to let his family know that we're never going to forget Ryan."

During the F3 workout, the leader, Russell Brewton, wore some items that Rawl's parents gave him.

F3 co-counder Tim Whitmire got up at 3 a.m. to make the drive from Charlotte to witness the workout.

"It's always awesome to come down and see F3 guys get after it," Whitmire said. "I love seeing men get out and lead after their hearts. This is obviously something that means a lot not just to Russell, but to all the men down here. To be down here with them is an honor for me."

Interested in F3? Check out F3 Nation for a location near you.

And, women, there's something very similar available to you! It's called FiA, or Females in Action. Find groups in the Midlands right here.

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