TV Show Review: Inside Combat Rescue – The Story of the Air Force PJ’S (Para Rescue Jumpers)
Above is from Hurricane Katrina
Air Force Pararescuemen, also known as PJs, are the only DoD elite combat forces specifically organized, trained, equipped, and postured to conduct full spectrum Personnel Recovery (PR) to include both conventional and unconventional combat rescue operations. These Battlefield Airmen are the most highly trained and versatile Personnel Recovery specialists in the world. Pararescue is the nation’s force of choice to execute the most perilous, demanding, and extreme rescue missions anytime, anywhere across the globe. The 500+ PJs are assigned to Guardian Angel and Special Tactics Squadrons throughout the Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve Air Force components. They operate most often as independent teams but routinely serve alongside with other US and Allied Special Operations Forces.
Mission To rescue, recover, and return American or Allied forces in times of danger or extreme duress. Whether shot down or isolated behind enemy lines; surrounded, engaged, wounded, or captured by the enemy; PJs will do whatever required to deny the enemy a victory and bring our warriors home to fight another day. “Leave no Airman, Marine, Soldier, or Sailor behind” is our nation’s supreme promise and responsibility to our brave war fighters. The Air Force holds true to this moral imperative. Personnel Recovery is an Air Force Core Function; one of twelve functions the Air Force provides the nation. The PJs are the elite ground forces that provide our nation with the capability to execute this noble responsibility.
Capabilites To execute the PR mission, Pararescue teams assault, secure, and dominate the rescue objective area utilizing any available DoD or Allied, air, land, or sea asset. Their qualifications and capabilities are extensive. All PJs are qualified experts in Advanced Weapons and Small Unit Tactics, Airborne and Military Free Fall, both High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) and High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) parachute operations, Combat Divers, High Angle/Confined Space Rescue operations, Small Boat/Vehicle Craft utilization, Rescue Swimmers, and Battlefield Trauma/Paramedics. All can fast rope/rappel/hoist from any vertical lift aircraft to both land and open ocean rescue objectives. All PJs can perform both static line and HALO jump operations utilizing boats, vehicles, or other equipment from any fixed wing aircraft. In addition, 1 in 12 personnel are tandem jump qualified and can HALO/HAHO both equipment and non-jump personnel into the objective area. As required, all PJs can jump in with and utilize extrication devices to remove war fighters or civilians trapped in wreckage or collapse structures. PJs also utilize the latest subsurface technology to locate and recover submerged equipment or personnel.
Recent History Since 9/11 alone, these elite warriors have executed over 12,000 life saving, combat rescue missions. They’ve also eliminated and captured numerous enemy combatants during the execution of these missions. Additionally, because of their unique capabilities, they have been called upon to rescue over 5000 civilians worldwide during catastrophic natural disasters and other responses.
Decorations PJs are the most highly decorated Air Force enlisted force. They’ve been awarded one Medal of Honor, 12 Air Force Crosses, and 105 Silver Stars.
Their motto, “These Things We Do, That Others May Live,” affirms Pararescue’s dedication and commitment to saving lives and self-sacrifice. As of January 2012, 10 pararescueman have been killed in action and paid the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I recently saw an episode on National Geographic and the fact that I am from a Rescue Unit and I have a few friends that are PJ’s, this show means a lot to me! To see what my brethren go through on a daily basis when deployed, gives me a bigger respect for what they do.
Its a show that all of America should watch, so they will never take their freedom for granted! You not only see the PJ’s put their own lives on the line to rescue others, but when they rescue our troops, you get to see what all our troops are giving for our freedom!
Its about time they get their own show, we have seen the most elite fighting forces: The Delta Force, Special Forces (Green Berets), The Navy Seals, The Army Rangers, Marine Recon, Army & Marine Snipers etc…
The PJ’s being the only total defensive special forces unit (to my knowledge), means a lot! They put their lives on the line to solely rescue others! That others may live, their motto, and the way they live their lives!
It doesn’t take a whole hell of a lot to take another life, put in the mindset that its either you or them, or they are the bad guys and you are the good guys, you can get the job done. It is done all over the world, each and every day (a sad fact), but having to deal with the aftermath over and over, day in and day out, to see the carnage upfront and in your face, hearing the cries of pain and anguish from the wounded. That takes a special man! To constantly, not only rescue and treat the wounded, but hold their hands and help to heal their hearts…. I love these men! The PJ’s!
If you haven’t seen this show you must watch it!
A lot of units are making poker chips now instead of coins… Here’s a PJ chip