Monday, March 19, 2007

That Others May Live

Good article from CNN on PJs and the larger overall USAF CSAR team:
"For every helicopter that goes down, an Air Force Combat Search and Rescue team, which includes the PJs, must go into that same hostile territory to rescue and medically treat the downed crew. The PJs are part of what's called the Guardian Angel Weapon System, which includes combat rescue officers and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists. Pilots and aircrews of high-tech rescue helicopters, A-10 Warthog attack jets, fighter jets, reconnaissance aircraft and special refuelers round out the team.

"We're spring-loaded," said an A-10 pilot whose call sign is "Batt."

"You're looking at a whole wing of people to put a couple of us guys on the ground to get one guy home," PJ "John" added.

The PJs are the only unit designated by the Department of Defense primarily to rescue and recover U.S. personnel trapped behind enemy lines. These units take on other special duties that they do not talk about, but their main mission is to save and bring people home from hostile territory.

"The most comforting thing that was said to us was, 'Because of you guys, a warrior was brought back,'" rescue helicopter pilot "TC" said.

Air Force officials credit their Combat Search and Rescue teams with more than 750 saves in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. They also credit these units with saving more than 4,000 lives during and after Hurricane Katrina.


The work has always been dangerous, but it is getting more so, according to one PJ: Insurgents have laid ambushes, or placed bombs or other "secondary devices," that specifically target the rescue teams. They call these "SAR traps," short for Search and Rescue traps. Six PJs have been killed since the beginning of both operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Dan, the PJ injured in Afghanistan, said before he left for that special mission that his teammates know they can face hostilities every time they respond to a call.

"For the families of those soldiers and civilians, they should know we'll go out there and do what we can; we'll put our lives on the line to bring that person home," he said."

More history of the PJs here. If you need further proof of the dedication of these men, two names: Jason Cunningham and Tim Wilkinson.

It is my duty as a Pararescueman to save life and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts. These things I do, "That Others May Live."