This article is an installment of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior series, which features advice, key interviews, and tips for living a life of consistent impact, continuous growth, and continual learning.
With the kick-off of the Triple 7 Expedition now measured in days rather than weeks or months, it's a great time to introduce you to the jump team. Along with meeting these former special operators, you’ll also learn more about the fallen heroes they're honoring; extraordinary Americans who lost their lives during the global war on terror.
In honor of their sacrifices, the Triple 7 team is working with Folds of Honor to provide 1,400 scholarships to the children and spouses of America's fallen.
“Everybody on this team feels fortunate to have served alongside truly amazing men and women, some of whom did not come home,” says Mike Sarraille, a retired Navy SEAL and co-founder of Triple 7. “When people stop sharing their stories, their legacies begin to fade, and we cannot let that happen.”
Each team member will dedicate a leg of this record-breaking Expedition to a fallen hero. After today, you'll know four of these brave Americans' stories. Next week, we’ll wrap up this two-part Men's Journal series by telling you about the remaining five.
Logan Stark joined the United States Marine Corps shortly after graduating high school. After boot camp, he trained as an Infantry assaultman and later served three deployments, including one to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Stark was a scout sniper, an elite group of Marines known for the psychological and physical toll they take on the enemy.
In 2011, after serving his final deployment in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Stark left the Marine Corps and enrolled at Michigan State University. His experience in Afghanistan so profoundly impacted him that he made a short film about the deployment. While it was only a school project, it led to articles in USA Today and a New York Times blog series. Today, Stark is the vice president of media at the veteran-owned Black Rifle Coffee Company.
When the team jumps into Australia, they'll honor U.S. Marine Sergeant Matthew Thomas Abbate. Born and raised in Fresno, CA, Abbate enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating high school in 2006. He was a scout sniper stationed at Camp Pendleton with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment—an infantry expeditionary force nicknamed Dark Horse.
In December 2010, during Abbate's third deployment, he was fatally wounded in Afghanistan's Helmand province amid a coalition airstrike and enemy attack. A Marine who served alongside him said, "Some guys have the heart, but they don't have the ability. [Others] have the ability but not the heart. [Sgt. Abbate] was the whole package, and he was humble about it."
Two months before his death, Sgt. Abbate displayed extraordinary bravery and courage during an ambush that wounded several Marines. For his actions, he posthumously received the Navy Cross, the second-highest medal for valor in combat.
His other awards and decorations include a Purple Heart with Gold Star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon with Gold Star, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO-ISAF Medal.
You may have heard special operators referred to as quiet professionals. In the case of retired U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician Nick Kush, the title is fitting. In 2016, after serving 20 years in the special operations community, including several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kush retired from the Navy.
After retiring, he spent nearly two years training special operators in advanced parachute flight. Kush has approximately 8,200 jumps, owns Deland High-Performance LLC, and is a research and development specialist at Performance Designs. His awards and decorations include two Bronze Star Medals with Valor, two Iraq Campaign Medals, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and two Combat Action Ribbons.
When the team jumps into Spain, they'll be doing so in honor of Aviation Ordnanceman Petty Officer Second Class Marc Alan Lee, the first Navy SEAL to lose his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was hit by enemy fire during an hour-long firefight with insurgents on August 2, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. During the exchange, AO2 Lee protected several teammates by unleashing a barrage of machine gun fire that forced the enemy back and provided his team time to find cover.
In his final letter, Lee told his family that his deployment in Iraq made him appreciate the United States even more. "[Being in Iraq] makes me realize what a great country we have," he wrote. AO2 Lee posthumously received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, and the Purple Heart; his other awards and decorations include the Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the National Defense Service Medal.
Born into a military family, Jariko Denman spent much of his childhood moving around the world. In 1997, he continued the family tradition by enlisting in the U.S. Army. After finishing Basic Combat Training and attending Jump School at Fort Benning, Denman passed the assessment and selection process for 75th Ranger Regiment. During his career, he took on various leadership roles, including weapons squad leader, rifle platoon sergeant, senior enlisted advisor, and first sergeant.
In 2017, after four years as a senior military science instructor at St. John's University, Denman retired from active duty. Since retiring, he's been an advisor on major film productions, national ad campaigns, and television shows. Denman is Black Rifle Coffee Company's senior media production manager and a contributing writer for Coffee or Die.
When the team jumps into Chile, they'll honor Sergeant First Class David L. McDowell, an Army Ranger who served with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. In April 2008, during his seventh combat deployment, SFC. McDowell was locked in a firefight against Taliban forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province when he sustained fatal injuries.
A husband and father of two, McDowell's awards and decorations include Bronze Star Medal with Valor device, Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, three Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, three NCO Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tabs.
He posthumously received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal with Valor device, and Meritorious Service Medal. As a Ranger, SFC. McDowell was committed to defending those fighting alongside him. He believed it was an honor to “uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers."
Although Andy Stumpf knew he wanted to be a U.S. Navy SEAL, he had one problem: he was 11 years old. For many children, this dream would have been fleeting, replaced just a few days later by the desire to be a race car driver or an astronaut. Not Stumpf. This all-consuming goal drove him for the next five years; then, during his junior year of high school, he enlisted in the Navy.
After finishing Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, Stumpf began a 17-year career that included becoming the first E-6 commissioned through the Navy’s Limited Duty Officer Program. By the time he retired in 2013, Stumpf had executed hundreds of combat operations and received five Bronze Star Medals (four with Valor), the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corp Commendation Medal with Valor, three Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medals, two Combat Action Ribbons, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Stumpf, a sponsored skydiver and BASE jumper, set two world records in 2015 to raise one million dollars for the Navy SEAL Foundation. The first record was for jumping from 36,500 feet, and the second was for flying more than 18 miles in a wingsuit. He's the host of the popular podcast Cleared Hot with Andy Stumpf, a Legacy Expedition co-founder, and one of the two retired Navy SEALS responsible for making Triple 7 a reality.
During the team's Africa jump, they'll honor Senior Chief David Lee Hall, a U.S. Navy SEAL who passed away on October 12, 2020. Hall joined the Navy shortly after high school and is one of the youngest to graduate BUD/S. During his military career, he served as a SEAL Qualification Training instructor, spent five years with a Special Mission Unit, and deployed to the Middle East several times. After the Navy, he was a defense industry consultant specializing in counter-insurgency operations.
Help the Triple 7 Expedition team provide 1,400 scholarships to the families of America’s heroes by donating today. Make your tax-deductible gift online or by texting Triple7 to 76278. Remember, 100% of your donation goes directly to Folds of Honor.