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Elite units of the Air Force Reserve, Pararescue units are comprised of a small group of men who are intensely trained to execute conventional and non-conventional rescues. Their primary mission: rescuing air crews downed behind enemy lines.
Para-jumpers - known as PJs - began the tradition of the Pararescuemen in 1943 when an aircrew was forced to bail out of a C-46 above the jungle along the China-Burma border. A few medical corpsmen spent months voluntarily parachuting into the desolate region to find and care for the crew until they were led to safety. Still known as the PJs, these men operate around the world, and live by the motto "That others may live."
Pararescue is one of the most exciting jobs in the Air Force Reserve. Outside of times of conflict, the PJs assist during natural disasters (such as Hurricane Katrina), and have contributed to rescues at sea, in deserts, and on mountains across the nation. They work with HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and the HC-130P/N tankers that refuel them in mid-air.
While Pararescuemen requirements are stringent, the most important attribute is ambition. Training, including a paramedic course, is long and intense, and can take the better part of two years. Pararescuemen typically live and work (many are paramedics and firefighters) in their local communities and serve as needed.
As part of the 920th Rescue Wing of the Air Force Reserve, the PJs primarily operate out of Patrick Air Force Base in Florida near the Kennedy Space Center (where they assist during every launch from Cape Canaveral) and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.