Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lifting for the fallen

Andrew Farrar Sr. attempts to break his own deadlift world record at the Amateur Athletic Union’s World Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month. Farrar was lifting in memory of his son, Sgt Andrew Farrar Jr., who was killed in Iraq in 2005. Joining Farrar was Col. Richard Anderson, MCB Quantico’s Security Battalion commanding officer, who was the younger Farrar’s CO at the time of his death.

Oct. 26, 2007; Submitted on: 10/26/2007 02:09:52 PM ; Story ID#: 2007102614952

By Staff Sgt. F.B. Zimmerman, MCB Quantico

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 26, 2007) -- Standing at five-foot, three-inches tall and weighing in at 120 pounds, 58-year-old Andrew Farrar Sr. is a giant in the sport of powerlifting.

While one wouldn’t think it by looking at him, he qualifies as such after breaking the Amateur Athletic Union’s deadlift world record for all raw categories of the 123-pound weight class during the World Powerlifting Championship at the Disney Sports Complex here recently. Farrar put up a staggering 162.5 kilograms (358.2 pounds) – nearly three times his body weight – without any assistance, not even a weight belt.

Setting a record of his own was Marine Corps Base Quantico’s Col. Richard Anderson, the commanding officer of Security Battalion, who deadlifted 242.5 kgs (534.6 pounds) to claim the top mark in the Military/Masters raw categories of the 198-pound weight class.

While both men have taken part in powerlifting competitions before, they met at this meet for one purpose: to honor Farrar’s son, Andrew Farrar Jr., who was killed in Iraq on Jan. 28, 2005. Farrar Jr. served under Anderson with the now deactivated 2nd Military Police Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, and was killed on his 31st birthday while on patrol in the Anbar province. He was electrocuted after running into a live high-voltage wire.

Since his death, Anderson has stayed in contact with his father, calling him every weekend to make sure the family was doing fine and to see if they needed anything.

‘‘The nightmare for these families is that their loved ones will be forgotten,” Anderson said, ‘‘and that’s not going to happen as long as I’m alive.”

During one of their many conversations, Farrar asked Anderson if he lifted, which he does. Farrar then told Anderson he was going to compete in the competition in memory of his son, and asked if he would like to compete. Anderson promptly replied, ‘‘If you do it, I’ll do it, too.”

Farrar said he has been lifting weights since high school, but gave it up for several years. When his three sons – Andrew Jr., Jason and Nathan - became a little older, he got back into the sport, lifting with his boys. He would even go to the gym at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and lift with Andrew Jr. whenever he would visit him there.

‘‘My sons and I found a tremendous amount of enjoyment lifting together,” said Farrar, whose family hails from Weymouth, Mass.

He said he was training for several years for a contest, and his dream was for Andrew Jr., who was on his second tour, to return from Iraq and serve as his spotter.

‘‘He was to come home about the same time as registration was due ... I never sent the registration in,” Farrar said with a tone of sadness in his New England accent. ‘‘I was really looking forward to him coming home because he had never been to one of my contests.”

This latest powerlifting competition was one of many for Farrar, but only the second since the death of his son. For Anderson, the competition was his eighth, and the first since 1998.

Before the lifting began, Farrar said his son was there.

‘‘I feel he’s with me all the time,” he said. ‘‘There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think and remember my son.”

As Farrar took off his warm-up clothes, chalking his strong, calloused hands for his first lift, it was evident Andrew Jr. was there.

Farrar was wearing a brown T-shirt with the words ‘‘Marine Dad” emblazoned on a printed expert marksmanship badge on the left chest that his son gave him after he graduated from recruit training, a yellow ribbon pin on the shirt, and on his left wrist a bracelet bearing son’s name. The most notable tribute was the blue singlet Farrar wore, which has his son’s name, date of his birth and death, location of his death, an Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and the phrase ‘‘Sacrifice with honor for freedom.”

Both Farrar and Anderson made their record-breaking lifts on their second attempt, and they both tried to break their own records on their third attempt, but couldn’t get the weights up. Farrar was visibly upset he didn’t hit his goal of 395 pounds, but Anderson and other competitors congratulated him on his accomplishment.

‘‘Mr. Farrar is a true American patriot,” Anderson said. ‘‘He’s supportive of the troops and the war ... he hasn’t lost his patriotic fervor. He’s honoring his son’s memory and the Marine Corps.”

Farrar and Anderson say they stay in contact via e-mail almost every day, but Anderson said he prefers the personal touch of phone calls.

‘‘Colonel Anderson has given me a tremendous amount of encouragement to keep going,” Farrar said. ‘‘It still helps to have him call every week. It’s difficult to stay focused – I was going to stop lifting.”

With possible knee replacement surgery looming, this was the probably the last competition for Farrar.

When asked what his son would say to him if he were at the meet that day, Farrar said, ‘‘His exact words would be, ‘You can do it, Dad.’”

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