Sgt. 1st Class David McDowell. Lead the Way Fund photo. Three of the Triple 7 team members jumping at Skydive Andes in Chile, Jan. 10, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Keep up with Coffee or Die Magazine’s complete coverage of the Triple 7 Expedition’s world-record attempt to skydive on all seven continents in seven days while raising money for Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization supporting Gold Star families.
As the nine special ops veterans on the Triple 7 Expedition crisscross the globe chasing a skydiving world record, they’re also dedicating each jump to a friend or teammate who was killed in action.
Jariko Denman, a retired Army Ranger and one of the Triple 7 jumpers, is skydiving in honor of Sgt. 1st Class David McDowell, a platoon sergeant assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. McDowell was killed in action on April 29, 2008, in Afghanistan.
The team dedicated its second team jump to McDowell in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday, Jan. 10. The Triple 7 team is attempting to skydive on all seven continents in seven days, creating a tough-to-beat world record and drawing eyes to its cause.
Photo of Army Rangers Jariko Denman and David McDowell in Thailand in 1999. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.
“Dave wanted to be one thing, and it was what our heroes were, and that was a fucking awesome Ranger platoon sergeant,” Denman told his Triple 7 teammates before the skydive. “And the way to become a fucking great Ranger platoon sergeant is to run to the sound of the fucking guns. And that’s how he went out.
“And whether we’re going to the sound of actual guns or we’re going to fucking problems, that’s how we have to live our fucking lives,” Denman said. “And that’s what we’re all doing here: identifying a problem in the world and doing something high risk to fucking solve it.”
As the team hops around the globe, the members hope to raise $7 million for Folds of Honor, a nonprofit providing scholarships to the families of fallen and wounded veterans and first responders. With that amount, Folds of Honor could provide 1,400 scholarships to those families.
“So I think this whole fucking thing honors Dave and honors what he did in Ranger Regiment,” Denman said. “And it definitely tells other people how to be better people. So run to the sound of the fucking guns.
“Let's get after it,” Denman said.
In less than a day, the Triple 7 team of nine vets has already finished two out of its seven planned skydives.
“We got two jumps in within 24 hours,” Logan Stark told Coffee or Die. “We’re sitting better than we thought we would be at this point.”
“We had a little bit of early morning cloud cover, like South America’s version of the marine layer,” Stark said. “But the sun came out, cleared by 10 a.m.”
Stark, a former Marine Corps Scout Sniper, said the plane was wheels up at the drop zone in Santiago at around 10:15 a.m. local, or 8:15 EST, on Jan. 10, about 20 hours after the team’s first jump in Antarctica.
A group of three Triple 7 skydivers exits the aircraft at Skydive Andes in Chile, Jan. 10, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.
“We were right between two mountain ranges, a couple of rivers, a couple of highways,” Stark said. “It’s just gorgeous.
“It’s kind of reminiscent of Southern California,” Stark said. “As soon as we got away from the airport this morning, I was like, ‘Oh, it kind of looks like Camp Pendleton a little bit.’ And it’s just beautiful.”
Just two jumps into the record attempt, Stark said the team is already finding its rhythm by skydiving in the same small groups every time.
“Everything is really, really fluid at this point,” Stark said. “We just decided together as a collective that we’re just going to stick with these groups, so we don’t have to do big, giant debriefs every time we get to a new place. Because we know by jump five, six, we’re going to be fucking smoked.”
Triple 7 jumpers Logan Stark and Jariko Denman outside of the clubhouse at Skydive Andes in Chile, Jan. 10, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.
The team caught an early break on its world-record chase with a later-than-expected skydive at Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica, on Monday, Jan. 9.
“The main 757 flight back from Antarctica kept getting pushed back, and that allowed us to keep pushing our jump back, which was a perfect scenario,” Stark said. “We got pretty much as close as we could get.”
Because the team members jumped so close to their departure from Antarctica, they have a lot of time to complete the expedition.
After their leap from the plane in Santiago, the jumpers have a little more than six days remaining to complete five more jumps on five continents.
The Triple 7 team arrives at Skydive Andes in Chile, the location of its jump in South America, Jan. 10, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.
The team is scheduled to fly to Miami, Florida, overnight for the North America jump, and then fly to Barcelona, Spain, for Europe. Jumps follow in Cairo, Egypt, for Africa; Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for Asia; and Perth, Australia.
“Spain, Egypt, UAE — that stint — we’ve got a couple of tight timelines in there,” Stark said. “If we don’t have good weather, it’s going to be a logistical nightmare, with flights having to get moved. Those stack on top of each other, so if there is a wrench in this whole thing, I think that’s where it’s going to come.”
But after jumping in Chile, the team took a quick breather before the night’s red-eye flight. After a barbecue at the drop zone, the team headed to a hotel near the Santiago airport for a few hours of shut-eye.
Black Rifle Coffee Company, which owns Coffee or Die Magazine, is a sponsor of the Triple 7 Expedition.
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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