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Mount Kilimanjaro, by Mark Ozdarski

Operation Promised Guardian (OPG) was a huge success and an incredible life experience.  I will tell stories for the rest of my life, but I’ll share some notes and photos to provide at least a summary of our trip.

-  First and foremost, all your generous support made this possible and has touched many lives already: the Little Warrior foundation, the SEAL kids, their mentors and support team, Stacey, me and every fallen hero’s family that is impacted by the Little Warriors outreach efforts.  While we were climbing Kilimanjaro, The Little Warriors had 15 kids on the Appalachian trail spending time with Team guys, getting Brotherly paternal mentorship, sharing strength, and keeping the Promise.

-  In Tanzania, Stacey and I landed in Arusha on August 15 and met our climbing team of 22 others (24 total), including mountaineering lead Jeff Evans and co-lead Susan Riggio.  We prepped equipment and stepped off on the jungle trail on August 16.

-  If you ever consider climbing a mountain in your life, call Jeff Evans at Mountain Vision Expeditions.  http://www.mountain-vision.com  Jefe is simply the best mountaineer on the mountain.  Motivating leadership, extremely knowledgeable, crassly humorous, medically skilled, with superb fieldcraft skills.  There isn’t another person I’d rather climb with, there is no better, and I know a few outdoorsmen – this is a lofty compliment.  I will be summiting with Jefe again someday.

-  Susan Riggio is an angel, a phenomenal athlete, and she just soothes your soul.  If you are going to be wandering some 50+ mile trail trapped in your own mind for 9 days while deprived of oxygen, have Susan by your side.  http://www.alchemyoutdoors.com  Incidentally, Susan has asked me to run a super-ultra 17 0mi self-supported 7 day marathon through the Grand Canyon with her next year, after we climb some other big ass mountain in some far off land.  Her ambition scares me.

-  On August 22, 19 of us reached the summit, the highest point on the continent of Africa at 19,341ft.  The moment takes your breathe away, and so does getting there.  I fell witness to some incredible feats of human achievement.  Three climbers in particular, left me moved for a lifetime.  Lonnie Bedwell, former US N nuke engineer, is completely blind from a hunting accident.  Lonnie summited by climbing the mountain only by having his hand on a leaders backpack in front of him.  David Inbody, medically retired USA Captain; Dave lost his right leg in Iraq.  Dave summited climbing on a prosthetic leg and with the support of his wife, Tiffany.  Susan Powers, retired USAF and Detroit police officer.  Susan is 67, never camped or hiked in her life until she spontaneously prepared for Kili.  This was a bucket lister for her, she persevered against all odds and summited later in the day by herself with a guide, she would not give up.

- I had several important missions to accomplish on my journey.  At the summit, I was proud to fly our American flag with the help of Lonnie, David and Diggs Brown (another USA veteran).  In the white fields, the flag bears the names of 95 of my SEAL and support Brothers that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom since 9/11.  Privately I broke away and took a moment to bury a SEAL Trident insignia at the peak.  It was my privilege to have carried the spirit of my warrior Brothers on my back from halfway around the world and place them forever in peace as close to the heavens as I was humanly able to bring them on my own.

-  The pictures cannot do this mountain justice.  There is nothing like looking down 9000 ft to the top of the clouds and knowing you are on top of the world.

Please see a few pictures below.

-  Equally as surreal, after our descent, we travelled to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire for 3 more days on the safari countryside.  We spent some time with the Masai natives in one of their remote villages.  We learned of their tribal culture, sang and danced, and did not eat their food.  Our first night in the Serengeti we had 3 Masai warriors guarding our tents throughout the night while we slept to ensure the lions remained on a four-legged diet.

Forever grateful for your support.  OPG – Mission Complete.

With Honor,

Fallen Heroes Flag

LWSummitLW FlagMark&SusanTridentMoment

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