The sun hadn’t yet come up over the Sacaton Mountains on the morning of October 3 when vehicles from a half-dozen states followed a dirt road through the unforgiving Sonoran Desert outside Coolidge, AZ. Their destination was a tactical training facility located at the edge of the Coolidge Municipal Airport. Within a few hours, the temperature approached 100 degrees. Most would avoid such hostile conditions but, for a team of former Special Operators preparing to break two world records by completing seven skydives on seven continents in seven days, the Arizona desert was the perfect place to train.
The clock starts on the Triple 7 Expedition the first week of January, when the team battles sub-zero temps to jump into Antarctica’s Union Glacier. From there, it’s off to Chile, Spain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Australia before executing their final jump in Tampa, FL.
This undertaking was the idea of two retired Navy SEALs, Mike Sarraille, founder of Talent War Group and Legacy Expeditions, and Andy Stumpf, host of the Cleared Hot Podcast and former wingsuit world record holder. Like all experienced leaders, Sarraille and Stumpf are confident in the abilities of those on their team and quickly shift the focus onto them. “This is a competent, highly trained team that’s dealt with far worse than navigating seven continents in seven days,” says Stumpf. “While I consider these men some of the world’s most lethal warriors, they’re also some of the kindest, most respectful people you’ll ever meet—and they’re all here for the right reason,” adds Sarraille.
That reason they’re attempting such a feat is to raise $7 million for Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that helps children and spouses of fallen and/or disabled service members and first responders get the education they deserve. Since 2007, the 501(c)(3) has honored these courageous men and women by awarding their families more than 44,000 scholarships. Stumpf says 100 percent of the funds raised during Triple 7 go directly to Folds of Honor.
Supporting this mission is a point of pride for everyone involved, including Logan Stark, head of marketing at Black Rifle Coffee Company. The former Marine Scout Sniper says, “When you think about the sacrifices made by those who protect this nation…you realize it’s our responsibility to take care of their families.”
On their first day in Arizona, the expedition team met with Complete Parachute Solutions (CPS), the company overseeing logistics for the week, then headed to SkyVenture Arizona for wind tunnel training. The giant cylinder simulates free-fall conditions by producing wind speeds of up to 160 miles per hour, allowing team members to work on their flight skills.
The following three days centered around skydives, and by early Thursday afternoon, the team had successfully conducted 534 jumps. “Training is vital [because] we’re jumping into seven unknown locations, on a tight schedule, with less than perfect sleep, meaning our skill sets and canopy work will be [key] in reducing the chance of injuries,” says Erik Prince, former Navy SEAL and managing director at Frontier Resource Group.
The second objective of the training was to foster a sense of camaraderie. The president of CPS, former Navy SEAL Fred Williams, believes building trust is vital to the mission’s success and the team’s safety.
“In my experience, running a couple training camps before an expedition helps the team feel more like a tribe,” Williams says. Something had undoubtedly shifted by the time training wrapped late Thursday. Clearly, the 10 individuals who’d arrived before dawn four days earlier were much closer to becoming an effective team.
The remaining members of Triple 7 include retired Navy SEAL Mike Barker, spokesman for Folds of Honor; retired Army Ranger Jariko Denman, media ISG for Black Rifle Coffee Company; retired Canada JTF-2 Operator Glenn Cowan, CEO of ONE9 Venture Capital; former Marine Jim Wigginton, private equity executive, and the current record holder.
Retired Navy SEAL Dr. Kirk Parsley will travel along with the expedition and closely monitor each team member to help the medical community better understand the impact of extreme conditions on a person’s physical and mental performance.
A documentary crew led by Dan Myrick, the acclaimed writer and director of The Blair Witch Project, will capture the entire journey. “It’s amazing to be part of such an amazing project,” says Myrick. “I can’t imagine supporting a better cause with a better group of guys,” he adds. The film crew includes cinematographer Kevin Burke, executive producer Kristian Krempel, and production assistants Will Sharman and myself.
Of course, Triple 7 would not be possible without sponsors. It’s easy for companies to say they support the military and first responders, but those who’ve stepped up to make this expedition a reality have proven their commitment to this community. These action-oriented sponsors include Frog Fuel, Peter M.D., Black Rifle Coffee Company, Ventus Respiratory, WHOOP, Arc’teryx LEAF, Salomon, Resco Instruments, Men’s Journal, The Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast With Mike Sarraille, Complete Parachute Solutions, Parachutes for Patriots, ATTA, Fieldcraft Survival, Talent War Group, Cleared Hot With Andy Stumpf, and Allegiance Flag Supply.
Throughout history, less than 1 million people have set foot on all seven continents; far fewer have done so attached to a parachute. If successful, the team joins an elite group of adventurers remembered for their willingness to push the limits. Despite this, their legacies are the furthest thing from their minds.
“Everybody on this team feels fortunate to have served alongside truly amazing men and women, some of whom did not come home,” says Sarraille. “When people stop sharing their stories, their legacies begin to fade, and we cannot let that happen,” he adds.
The Triple 7 Expedition is about more than making history and breaking records. It’s about honoring service members and first responders. As these former Special Operators float high above Antarctica, taking in breathtaking views of the frozen continent, each will carry the legacies of those who didn’t make it home. Those are the legacies that truly matter.
Help the Triple 7 Expedition team raise $7 million to provide scholarships for the families of America’s heroes by donating to Folds of Honor today. You can make your tax-deductible gift online or by texting Triple7 to 76278. Remember, 100% of your donation goes directly to Folds of Honor.