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.
Last week, we introduced you to four Triple 7 team members and the American heroes they’ll honor during the expedition. Now, in the final part of this two-part series, you’ll meet the remaining five members and learn about the fallen they’re honoring.
Along with making each continent’s jump to the memory of a service member, the team is dedicating their celebratory jump in Tampa, FL, to 13 courageous men and women who lost their lives helping civilians escape Afghanistan during the United States’ 2021 withdrawal.
Over two decades, many Americans lost their lives protecting the United States from the threat of terrorism. We’ll never forget their sacrifices. These men and women remind us of the enduring power of selflessness and the ability of one person to make a lasting difference in the lives of many.
Triple 7 Co-founder Mike Sarraille
Following high school, Sarraille enlisted in the Marine Corps and served as a scout sniper. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he received his commission in the Navy and went through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S). Sarraille led primary combat operations during the Battles of Ramadi in 2006 and Sadr City in 2008. In 2009, he was assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, part of the elite Joint Special Operations Command, to support global counter-terrorism operations.
After retiring, Sarraille co-founded Talent War Group and Legacy Expeditions. The first company is a leadership development and executive search firm, and the second is an adventure capital firm that embarks on record-setting expeditions, such as Triple 7, in honor of America’s fallen heroes. He’s also the director of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior franchise, the founder of the performance-focused brand ATTA, and the author of two books, The Talent War and The Everyday Warrior.
In Antarctica, during the team’s first jump, they’ll honor Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who saved three teammates—one of whom was Mike Sarraille.
Monsoor joined the U.S. Navy in 2001, graduated from BUD/s in 2004, and deployed to Iraq in 2006. On September 29, he was part of a SEAL sniper overwatch element providing security for a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in Ramadi when a hand grenade landed on the rooftop within feet of the team’s position. Monsoor immediately shouted “Grenade!” to alert his team, but the SEALs could not escape the blast radius in time. Without hesitation, Monsoor threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the full force of the explosion. His selfless actions saved the life of the three SEALs serving alongside him.
Recognized for his bravery and courage, Monsoor received the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in the U.S. military. He was the second SEAL to receive the award for service in Iraq and the first to receive it posthumously. His other awards and decorations include the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with a “V” device, Purple Heart, Iraqi Campaign Medal with Star, Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and more.
Mike “Boots” Barker
Those in special operations live by a code, which includes maintaining a low public profile while serving in uniform. Many in the community carry this practice over to their post-military life, but few as successfully as retired Navy SEAL Mike ‘Boots’ Barker. While society’s transition to the digital age makes this much more challenging, Barker has found a way. After a considerable amount of research, we can report that Barker is a professional skydiver and speaks on behalf of Folds of Honor, the nonprofit that the Triple 7 Expedition supports.
When the team jumps into the United Arab Emirates, they’ll be honoring Master Chief Petty Officer Louis Langlais, a Navy SEAL. In 1986, after graduating from the Navy’s Recruit Training Command in San Diego, Langlais was assigned to the frigate Wadsworth (now decommissioned). In 1989, three years after enlisting in the Navy, he reported to BUD/S in Coronado, California. He served the next eight years with a West Coast-based SEAL Team. Langlais was on the Navy parachute team until February 2000. Later in his career, he was assigned to the Naval Special Warfare unit. A husband and father of two, Langlais lost his life in 2011 during a mission in the Wardak province of Afghanistan.
His awards and decorations include four Bronze Stars with a “V” device, two Joint Service Commendation Medals (one with a “V” device), three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals, three Combat Action Ribbons, Presidential Unit Citation, seven Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, two Southwest Asia Service Medals, three Afghanistan Campaign Medals, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, seven Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Rifle Marksmanship Medal, and Pistol Marksmanship Medal.
A graduate of McGill University and the Ivey Executive Leadership Program, Cowan is the CEO of ONE9 Venture Capital, a company he founded in 2013 while serving as an Assaulter Officer with Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2. Cowan is the only Triple 7 team member who is not an American. During his 19 years of service in the Canadian special forces, Cowan deployed to Afghanistan multiple times, participated in sensitive information operations in the Middle East, and conducted hostage recovery in Africa.
As a Squadron Commander, Cowan specialized in tactical leadership and strategic planning. His company is Canada’s premier defense ecosystem and the only one that uses national security end users to validate dual-use technologies, namely the special forces. He also sits on the board of Ventus Respiratory Technologies, a company sponsoring Triple 7.
Expedition Lead Fred Williams
Former Navy SEAL Fred Williams is the CEO of Complete Parachute Solutions (CPS) and is the expedition lead during Triple 7. He served in the U.S. Navy for ten years, after which he focused his efforts on the parachuting industry. Williams was instrumental in founding CPS, which provides tactical parachute equipment and training for special mission units worldwide. In the months leading up to the expedition’s launch, Williams and his company hosted two Triple 7 training camps in Coolidge, Arizona.
Retired Marine Jim Wigginton holds several world records, including one that the Triple 7 Expedition team is attempting to break. He grew up on a farm in Marion, KY, and now serves as the managing partner of True North Equity, LLC. Wigginton pledged a $6 million endowment in support of the Punya Thyroid Cancer Endowed Fund in honor of his late wife, Nancy Wigginton. “She was just one of those energetic, happy, loving, kind people,” said Wigginton. “I wanted to do something big that would honor her life and everything she went through,” he added.
Entire Team (United States)
As the team freefalls above Miami, they’ll do so in honor of Commander Robert Ramirez III, the highly decorated commander of California-based SEAL Team 1. A Virginia native, Ramirez enlisted in the Navy in 1996, received his commission in 2004, and was promoted to Commander in September 2019. During his 27-year career, he deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Cmdr. Ramirez was assigned to the West Coast Special Warfare Unit overseeing SEAL Team 1 in June 2022.
In a statement, Captain David Abernathy, commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, which manages all San Diego-based SEAL teams, described Ramirez as “…an outstanding leader, a devoted husband and father, and good friend.” A few of his awards and decorations include five Bronze Star Medals (two with a “V” device), three Combat Action Ribbons, and six medals for campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Celebratory Jump (Tampa, FL)
After visiting all seven continents and breaking both records, the Triple 7 Expedition Team will return to the United States. Something this extraordinary can’t end with nine world record holders waiting for their bags: it’s just not an option. That’s why they’re capping off this once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment with a final jump in Tampa, Florida.
While this skydive is celebratory, it also allows them to honor even more American heroes. As the Triple 7 team crosses the finish line in Tampa, they’ll jump in honor of the 13 courageous men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on August 26, 2021, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
As the United States began withdrawing from the war-torn country, countless civilians fled to the airport, hoping for evacuation. In the chaos, an ISIS-K terrorist detonated a suicide bomb as U.S. military personnel checked the passports and documents of those looking to escape the Taliban. The attack was one of the deadliest in the twenty-year war.
Like all those honored during Triple 7, they put their lives on the line to defend our nation and protect our values. For that, we are forever grateful. As we honor their memories, we must also thank their loved ones. The families of the fallen serve this nation through their strength, resilience, and sacrifice.
These 13 men and women symbolize the courage, bravery, and dedication of those who wear the uniform with pride. Their legacies will live on in the hearts of all Americans.
The Triple 7 Expedition honors:
Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza, U.S. Marine Corps
LCpl. Espinoza was raised in Rio Bravo, Texas, and grew up in a close-knit family. He was known for his strong work ethic, desire to help, and life-long dream of becoming a Marine. In 2019, Espinoza headed to San Diego for basic training after graduating high school. Before deploying to Afghanistan, he attended the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton. Espinoza’s legacy will live on in the hearts of all who knew him.
LC Espinoza’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment.
Sergeant Nicole L. Gee, U.S. Marine Corps
Sgt. Gee was born on May 1, 1998, in Vail, Colorado, and married her high school sweetheart, Jarod Gee, in August 2016. After enlisting in the Marines, she underwent basic training at Parris Island, School of Infantry at Camp Lejeune, Aviation Accession and Military Occupational Specialty School in Pensacola, Florida, and Communications and Electronics School at 29 Palms in California. In February 2021, Sgt. Gee deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, stopping in Afghanistan to help evacuate more than 100,000 refugees. Her family describes her as brave, kind, dedicated, and selfless.
Sgt. Gee’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and NATO Medal.
Staff Sergeant Darin “Taylor” Hoover Jr., U.S. Marine Corps
Darin “Taylor” Hoover was just 11 years old when planes hit the World Trade Center, but the attack on his homeland left a lasting impression. Although he had always wanted to be a Marine, the horrific events of that warm September day strengthened his resolve. Nine years and two days later, Taylor accomplished his dream of becoming a Marine. In 2021, his unit headed to Kabul to support withdrawal efforts. It was Taylor’s third deployment to Afghanistan. Reports from the attack say that even as Taylor lay mortally wounded, he remained in the fight and distributed his remaining ammunition to the Marines he proudly led.
Taylor’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Certificate of Commendation (Individual), Good Conduct Medal, Letter of Appreciation, Meritorious Mast, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, U.S. Army
In 2016, Ryan Knauss graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Army. After completing basic training and Airborne School, he served in the 82nd Airborne Division. Following a deployment to Afghanistan in 2017, he completed the Psychological Operations Qualification Course and was assigned to the 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group. SSgt. Knauss was the last American military member to die during the war in Afghanistan.
SSgt. Knauss’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Congressional Gold Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, and the Army Basic Parachutist Badge.
Corporal Hunter Lopez, U.S. Marine Corps
Raised in a family that valued service, Hunter Lopez was a captain in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scouts before joining the Marine Corps. The 22-year-old planned on joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after returning from deployment.
Cpl. Lopez’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Letter of Appreciation, Meritorious Mast, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, U.S. Marine Corps
In December 2019, Rylee J. McCollum completed boot camp at Camp Pendleton. While expecting the birth of his first child, Lance Corporal McCollum deployed to Jordan in April of 2021. His battalion deployed to the Middle East as part of the Special Purpose–Marine Air-Ground Task Force–Crisis Response–Central Command. It was the 20-year-old’s first deployment. Just 18 days after McCollum lost his life, his family welcomed the birth of his daughter, Levi Rylee Rose, at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital.
LCpl. McCullum’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, U.S. Marine Corps
Dylan R. Merola joined the Marine Corps on August 26, 2019, in honor of his great-grandfathers, who both served during the Korean War. Following his deployment to Afghanistan, which was LCpl. Merola’s first, he planned to buy a car and pursue an engineering degree. The 20-year-old was in Kabul for less than a week before the August 26th attack. Los Osos High School, Merola’s alma mater, honored him with a moment of silence before its first football game of the season.
LCpl. Merola’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, U.S. Marine Corps
In 2019, Kareem Nikoui graduated from Norco High School and joined the Marines. While in school, he was a standout student and was involved in JROTC. Friends and family remember the 20-year-old as selfless, courageous, and faithful. Norco, CA, his hometown, renamed their post office in his honor.
LCpl. Nikoui’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Corporal Daegan W. Page, U.S. Marine Corps
In September 2017, less than a year after graduating from Millard South High School in Omaha, NE, Daegan Page signed a delayed entry program contract with the Marines. Four months later, he left for boot camp. Cpl. Page loved being a Marine and was proud to serve as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton. He deployed multiple times and served in Japan, South Korea, Australia, Jordan, and Afghanistan. The 23-year-old lived life to the fullest; friends and family remember him for having a fun-loving spirit and a giant heart.
Cpl. Page’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Korean Defense Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Sergeant Johanny Rosario-Pichardo, U.S. Marine Corps
After graduating from high school in 2014, Sergeant Johanny Rosario-Pichardo enlisted in the Marines. She served with Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, a Naval Amphibious Force that responds to crises, such as the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Sgt. Rosario-Pichardo was assigned to the Female Engagement Team to screen the women and children trying to escape Taliban rule. She lost her life helping two Afghan women trampled by the crowd following the explosion. Sgt. Rosario-Pichardo’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, and many more.
Corporal Humberto Sanchez, U.S. Marine Corps
Corporal Humberto Sanchez was the first of his family to be born in the United States and the first to serve in the U.S. Military. In 2017, Cpl. Sanchez graduated from Logansport High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps. After completing basic training and School of Infantry, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, California.
In February 2021, Corporal Sanchez began his third deployment. His battalion was assigned to serve as the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force for Central Command. As the deployment neared its end, they went to assist in the evacuation of Kabul. Cpl. Sanchez lost his life helping a group of civilians move to safety.
Corporal Sanchez’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Lance Corporal Jared M. Schmitz, U.S. Marine Corps
In 2019, during his senior year at Fort Zumwalt South High School, Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz signed an enlistment contract with the Marines. Soon after graduation, he headed to boot camp in San Diego, CA. Earning his place in the Marines was LCpl. Schmitz’s proudest accomplishment.
LCpl. Schmitz’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Hospital Corpsman Third Class Max W. Soviak, U.S. Navy
When HM3 Max Soviak graduated from Edison High School in 2017, he was determined to join the U.S. Navy. After training, he served in Guam as a medic in vaccinations and surgery. Although he enjoyed Guam, his goal was to serve alongside the Marines. He attended Corpsman School and was assigned to the 2/1 Ghost company. While on deployment in Jordan, his battalion assisted with the humanitarian effort in Kabul. HM3 Soviak died doing what he was passionate about: serving his country and helping people.
HM3 Soviak’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Congressional Gold Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and Fleet Marine Forces Specialist Warfare Designation.
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.