Mike Sarraille, a former Navy SEAL, went to great heights to memorialize the legacy of 31 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice 10 years ago during Extortion 17. In addition to honoring these fallen heroes and their respective families, Mike constructed a unique public fundraising campaign to benefit the surviving children of Special Operations Personnel lost in the line of duty. Monies raised through this endeavor were donated to Special Operations Warrior Foundation and directed to fully funded college educations and additional educational opportunities for children served by SOWF.
The journey consisted of Mike, who was joined by expedition leader and another former Navy SEAL, Fred Williams, and the elite crew at Complete Parachute Solutions, who collectively embarked on a 19-day skydiving expedition parachuting into one of the most challenging environments on our planet – Mt. Everest.
Their trip began in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the team took part in a 30-minute traditional Puja ceremony, an offering to the Hindu gods in exchange for their blessings. This Puja was led by designated Hindu holy men, who blessed the team’s helicopters, pilots, and flights. Mike said the scenery from the helicopters provided unmatched views, some of the most beautiful images he had ever seen.
After days of training, preparation and building fellowship with the local population, the team was finally ready to venture out to Namche Bazaar and Sagarmatha National Park – the home of Mt. Everest. With focused hearts and minds, the team departed from what is thought to be, based on its elevation, one of the most dangerous airports in the world – Lukla. Picture being 9,200 feet above sea level tucked into the side of a mountain in unpredictable weather conditions taking off on an extremely tiny runway in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The plan was to parachute to one mountain location per day. If achieved, then the degree of difficulty would increase the following day.
Though there was a slight pause due to torrential downpours, the expedition team soon after began their first day of jumps. On different days, they landed in Syangboche Airstrip, Ama Dablam, one of the most beautiful peaks in the Khumbu Region, and Ama Dablam Base Camp. This all led to the crescendo, a jump into Gorak Shep, with a drop zone of 17,500 feet! The group achieved success, with each participant hitting the mark inside the final drop zone. In Mike’s own words, “you can absolutely feel the altitude… you have to make sure that you are in great health to venture to these parts!”
We truly thank Mike Sarraille and his colleagues for their incredible efforts, for pushing the limits and ultimately paying tribute to the fallen in such remarkable fashion. Understanding each step presented its own set of challenges, we also congratulate all involved for conquering every degree of extreme difficulty. To learn more about this journey or to donate, please visit www.legacyexpeditions.net.