This Army JAG Tearing Up ‘American Ninja Warrior’ Will Make You Question Your Life Goals


The pantheon of American Ninja Warrior greats includes former special operators, Ironman athletes, and seriously tough mudders. But after this week’s episode, perhaps there’s some room on that lofty pedestal for a sprightly 27-year-old Army lawyer named Jeri.

Capt. Jeri D’Aurelio, a Dallas native and active-duty soldier assigned to the 4th Infantry Division Staff Judge Advocate office, made an epic, five-obstacle dash at ANW’s harsh finals course in Denver this week — epic enough to qualify her for the national finals in her third straight year competing on the grueling show. Jump to the 28:00 mark in this video to watch the 5’2”, 115-pound hurricane hop through her backyard o-course, somersault over a shaky ANW balance obstacle, study up on her case law, and generally make you ask what the hell you’re doing with your life:

Though her finish was strong enough to place at the top of the city final and move on to nationals, she seemed disappointed to have fallen on the dreaded “rail runner” — the same obstacle that bested her in the qualifying round.

That’s pretty much the sort of modesty you get out of D’Aurelio, an avid snowboarder, rock climber, ice hockey player, mountain biker, and skydiver whose favorite day on post is, well, o-course day:


D’Aulerio will insist that she’s not special. “There are plenty of officers that crush PT in the JAG Corps,” she’s said to her followers on Instagram, adding, “I don't stand out.”

People: Don’t you believe it.


D’Aurelio first competed in American Ninja Warrior in 2015 on the series’ military-themed episode at the USS Iowa museum in San Pedro, California, going down unexpectedly on the third obstacle. (After getting the call to join the show, she’d had only three weeks to prepare for the competition.)

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only time I let myself down [in 2015],” she said in a video application for last season’s American Ninja Warrior. That year, the recent law-school grad also took the Texas state bar exam and missed the passing cutoff by 7 points out of 1000 — despite studying up to 12 hours a day to prepare.

Devastating? Perhaps. Debilitating? Not a chance. “All of my greatest successes have begun with a failure,” she said. She passed the bar not long after and became a full Army judge advocate. She also got the nod to compete on ANW again last season, and the next, getting farther every year.

When D’Aurelio moved to Colorado Springs recently for her posting at Fort Carson, she picked a house with a backyard big enough to fit a DIY obstacle course… and like her ambition, the course continues to grow.

But she’s also managed to work on her fitness on the job, mounting out with four other women in her JAG shop to complete the punishing 26.2-mile Bataan Memorial Death March with a 40-something-pound ruck — pausing to say hi to her old JROTC sergeant major:


The soldiers cut a video of their march, shown below (warning: It contains excessive motivation and Katy Perry lip-synching):

Of course, that’s all just a prelude to the next big ANW championship competition. “This Army JAG is about to battle this course,” D’Aulerio says.

As the show’s announcers said, watching her climb, jump, and muscle her way through Denver: “Don’t underestimate her.”

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale (U.S. Army photo)

The Pentagon has identified a Green Beret who was killed on Tuesday by enemy small arms fire in southern Afghanistan as Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale.

Beale was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He was killed during combat operations in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
(The 621st Contingency Response Wing/Flickr)

The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown "unacceptable" following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.

"We're five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay," Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. "You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden."

Read More Show Less
The M160 Robotic Mine Flail at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Photo: Maj. Dan Marchik/U.S. Army

The battlefield of the future could feature robot medics delivering life-saving care to casualties in the line of fire. At least, that's what the Army is aiming for — and it's willing to pay millions for help doing it.

Read More Show Less
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles was awarded the Medal of Honor July 18, 2016, for his actions while serving as a Flight Commander assigned to the 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) (Light), 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, Americal Division. Then-Maj. Kettles distinguished himself in combat operations near Duc Pho, Republic of Vietnam, on May 15, 1967. (U.S. Army/Spc. Tammy Nooner)

YPSILANTI, MI - When a brigade of U.S. troops was ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army in the Song Tra Cau riverbed on the morning of May 15, 1967, Lt. Charles Kettles volunteered to lead the rescue, and he refused, again and again, to back down when faced with a barrage of gunfire.

His aircraft badly damaged, left spilling fuel, and his gunner was severely injured during the treacherous operation.

But he helicoptered in and out of the battlefield four times, saving the lives of 44 soldiers in a death-defying emergency operation that would become a legendary tale of bravery in the Vietnam War.

Nearly 50 years later, Kettles received the Medal of Honor on July 18, 2016.

Read More Show Less