That Others May Live: The True Story of the PJs, the Real Life Heroes of the Perfect Storm by Jack BrehmImagine jumping out of an aeroplane at 40, 000 feet, accelerating through the air until you reach terminal velocity at 127 mph, then deploying your chute at a mere 1000 feet in order to minimise your vulnerability to ground fire. . . Imagine jumping from 800 feet, having an instant to pull the release and even then bouncing along the ground like tumbleweed because youre carrying so much of the planes forward momentum. Or performing the against-all-odds rescue operation described in the best-selling THE PERFECT STORM. Or climbing down a mountain in a blizzard with someone strapped to your back. The PJs, Americas most elite military unit are Pararescue Jumpers, originally formed after WWII by the US Air Force/Air National Guard to rescue troops from behind enemy lines (and, in peacetime, civilians in danger around the world). They can recover victims from deserts or at the poles, far out to sea, or just offshore in 150mph winds. They swim in 100 foot seas. They are highly skilled paramedics. They also know how to operate a machine gun from a hellicopter door. In THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE we follow Brehm and his fellow PJs from PJ school in 1978 to the present day. The daring missions are relived in full detail.
Air Force tactical rescue and recovery specialists think nothing of going behind enemy lines during wartime to rescue an aviator that has ejected from an aircraft, or braving a hurricane in peacetime to help rescue those that have been caught in its path. During the training phase of this job, one will learn to become part combat airman and part emergency medical technician. These are jobs that are typically hard enough to do on their own let alone in combination with one another while under fire. The Pararescue brotherhood is respected highly by not only other Air Force members, but also by other military branches and those in the civilian community as well. In some 21 soldiers were forced to bail out of the disabled C transport aircraft that they were traveling in. The area where these troops bailed out was in a super-remote jungle near the China-Burmese border. There was no way for the Army to get to these men and help the injured in a timely manner because of that extremely remote location.
These special operations units are also used to support NASA missions and have been used to recover astronauts after water landings. They are attached to other SOF teams from all branches to conduct other operations as appropriate. Of the roughly Air Force Cross recipients, only 24 are enlisted rank , of which 12 are Pararescuemen. Part of the little-known Air Force Special Operations community  and long an enlisted preserve, the Pararescue service expanded to include Combat Rescue Officers early in the 21st century. As early as there was a recognized need for trained personnel to go to remote sites to rescue airmen. Truby predicted that "airplane ambulances" would be used to take medical personnel to crashes and to return victims to medical facilities for treatment.
Any response by Marine forces based out of Europe to a crisis in Africa would have to overcome the tyranny of distance and time, meaning help could be a long way off. Marines and U. That also means responding to downed aircraft, rescuing pilots or personnel can be a laborious task fraught with complex hurdles.
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Brief History of PJ’s
While many other special operations units note their successes by how many enemy soldiers they kill or capture, the Air Force PJ is trained to primarily save lives. The "extended training day," also known as Hell Night, is a highly intense workout of near-constant moving or discomfort for a solid day and night. For 20 hours, the instructors push the team of PJ students to their limits both mentally and physically, preparing them for the remaining several months of the pararescue training pipeline. A student and his class will spend the day in and out of the pool performing seemingly endless pushups, flutter kicks, fast swims both underwater and surface swimming , treading and other water-related skills. The physical demands placed on the students, accompanied by a lack of sleep, produce a stressful environment. The extended training day is designed to introduce students to the rigors of operations and promote team building. It approximates what a day would be like for pararescue specialists, especially those in combat situations.
In the Air Force , Special Operations Combat Medics and Rescue Specialists are trained and equipped to conduct conventional and unconventional rescue operations. PJs may conduct their duties in humanitarian and combat environments using air, land, or sea tactics. The training for these airmen is among the most rigorous and intense of any in the U. Armed Forces. As part of the Air Force Special Operations Command, candidates have to be of above-average physical abilities. Running, lifting, and high repetition calisthenics also are required to get through the physical challenges of the training program. And PJs also take challenging courses in medical training.
These "highly trained experts perform rescues in every type of terrain and partake in every part of the mission, from search and rescue, to combat support to providing emergency medical treatment, in order to ensure that every mission is a successful one. Here's how PJs rescue troops in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Read more about Chinooks here. PJs can also insert from higher altitudes, and therefore train in high altitude jumps from fixed-wing aircraft. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search".