Triple 7 tandem couple chase their own skydiving record

Follow, continue Coffee or Die MagazineComplete coverage of the Triple 7 Expedition skydiving world record attempt across seven continents in seven days while raising money for folds of honora non-profit organization that supports Gold Star families.

Like the nine paratroopers of the Triple 7 Expedition On a plane to Barcelona, ​​Spain on Thursday morning, January 12, they faced the most difficult change of their trip.

After flying overnight from Miami Florida, the team of nine military veterans had four hours to run to a drop zone 45 miles away for a quick jump and then return for their flight to Egypt.

Once at Skydive Barcelona, ​​the Triple 7 team had just an hour and a half to prepare and complete the jump that would be the European leg of the expedition. The clouds hung low, but with the go-ahead from the DZ operators, the jumpers took off into the cloudy sky.

Skydiving through cloud cover is generally considered too risky for all but advanced skydivers. Jumpers can become disoriented in the clouds, drift away from their landing site, or worse, collide with other jumpers in the air. To mitigate those risks, a jump team will often designate a direction for all jumpers to fly in the event they enter clouds, thereby reducing the likelihood of collision.

Triple 7 Expedition: Debbie and Marc Lee

Marc Lee with his mother, Debbie Lee. Lee was assigned to Charlie Squad, SEAL Team 3, when he was killed in action while protecting his teammates on August 2, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. Photography courtesy of Debbie Lee.

“We prepped and shipped it,” said Nick Kush, the team’s tandem master. Coffee or Die Magazine. “It was great.”

After a mad dash back to Barcelona airport, the team moved on to Cairo, Egypt, where they will jump over the pyramids on Friday morning, January 13.

‘It was a no-brainer’

But while the nine veterans are touring the globe in pursuit of a world record, they’re also skydiving to honor a friend or teammate killed in action.

Kush, a retired Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician, parachutes in honor of Navy SEAL marc lee. Lee was assigned to Charlie Platoon, SEAL Team 3, when he was killed in action while moving into the direct line of fire to protect his teammates on August 2, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq.

“For me, it was a no-brainer to pick Marc,” Kush said. “He was a friend and teammate. I was standing next to him when he was shot and killed, so there was a lot of proximity for me.”

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The team dedicated their team vault to Lee in Barcelona on Thursday, January 12.

Lee’s mother, Debbie, known to her son’s teammates as “Mama Lee”, he told Coffee or Die that the members of the Triple 7 team are doing right by the fallen by embarking on the expedition.

“As I say, live your life worthy of their sacrifice,” he said. “And that’s what they’re doing. They are living their lives. They have not given up on life. They don’t just sit around, concentrating on all the terrible things that happened, but they keep going to change the world. And in the midst of that, they are honoring and keeping Marc’s memory alive.”

Triple 7 Expedition: Barcelona, ​​Spain

A Triple 7 jumper launches on a cloudy Skydive Barcelona, ​​January 12, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.

“Marc did that”

Although the Barcelona timeline proved stressful, Kush said the team wanted to use the location to make up time in their quest to finish all seven jumps in less than a week.

“We really wanted to keep saving time because, right now, I think when we finished Barcelona, ​​we were at 66 hours, or a little less,” Kush said. “Over seven days, that’s 168 hours, and we’ve already done four jumps at 66.”

But Thursday’s time constraints left no time for the pre-jump speech Kush planned to share about Lee. After the parachute jump in Barcelona, ​​Kush shared with coffee or die in a text message what he had planned to say:

Marc Alan Lee was my friend, my teammate, my brother. He left his mark in life with his family, his wife and his siblings. Here we are talking about a boy who left almost 17 years ago. That alone should tell you that he was a really good guy.

In a shootout, Marc’s behavior was contagious. He was aggressive and intense, everything a warrior is supposed to be, and as he reloaded his .48, he told a joke and punched the enemy for running scared, and we all laughed as we responded. It was incredible

He always wanted to fire more bullets, launch more rockets, throw more grenades, and end the evil that lay in Iraq. He insisted on wearing the .48 without a sling at all times. Animal. He insisted on growing that hideous mustache. Animal.

He had my back from the moment I met him to the moment I lost him. His life impacted my life, his death impacted my life and I will always miss him. Throughout his life, he always did more for others than for himself. That’s what he taught me.

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Brotherhood means that we put the safety and well-being of others above our own. Mark did that. Better than nobody. I will never forget the imprint this man has left on our culture, he is an animal and a crushing machine for evil.

Let’s do it and crush this expedition.

Triple 7 Expedition: Marc Lee

Marc Lee in Ramadi, Iraq. Photo courtesy of Debbie Lee.

‘Your purpose in life’

From the team’s first jump to Antarctica on MondayOn January 9, Kush has jumped with Jim Wigginton, 73, strapped to his chest. The pair are chasing their own world record, one that Wigginton already holds.

Wigginton, an ex-Marine originally from Kentucky, posted the fastest tandem skydive time on all seven continents. completing his first attempt as a passenger in about six months in 2019.

After Wigginton’s wife, Nancy, died nearly a decade ago of thyroid cancer, he undertook a series of record-breaking feats to raise awareness and funds for thyroid cancer research, much like the Triple 7 Expedition is attempting. do for gold star families..

“At some point, you will ask yourself what is your purpose in life,” Wigginton said. coffee or die. After Nancy died in 2013, Wigginton decided that raise money for thyroid cancer research It was his.

‘The professional of a professional’

Remote skydiving expeditions have accomplished a couple of Wigginton feats, which he had often pursued with his tandem teacher and friend, Tom Noonan. He was the tandem master who skydived with Wigginton across seven continents in 2019.

Kush said Noonan was a giant in the skydiving industry, training the people who train other skydivers and helping pioneer skydiving expeditions in the Himalayas.

Triple 7 Expedition: Antarctica Tandem

Triple 7 tandem master Nick Kush lands with team member Jim Wigginton at Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica, January 2023. Photo by ALE (Antarctica Logistics & Expeditions).

“A professional is a professional,” Wigginton said of Noonan. “All these guys were coming to him for advice.”

So when Navy SEAL retired mike sarraille called Kush with the idea for the Triple 7 Expedition over a year ago, Kush said, “Okay, you called the right guy because I’m going to introduce you to the right guy.” And that guy was Noonan.

But during the planning stages of the expedition, Noonan and Wigginton tried to update Wigginton’s world record tandem parachute jump of 37,417 feet, during which noon died.

“On October 16, 2021, while attempting a 41,000 foot tandem for the world record for tallest tandem with Jim Wigginton, there were some equipment complications leading to hypoxia and unfortunately heart failure,” Kush said.

Following Noonan’s death, Wigginton chose to continue the expedition, jumping in honor of his teammate.

“Jim was going to be Tom’s passenger through all of this,” Kush said. “So with Tom passing, Jim still wanted to go, and he wanted me to be the tandem master for him.”

Black Rifle Coffee Company, owner coffee Or Die Magazine, is a sponsor of the Triple 7 Expedition.

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