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U.S. Military Special Operations Forces

Part II

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Pararescue

Pararescue men attached to the 410th Air Expeditionary Wing jump out of a C-130 for a static jump from 800 feet at an undisclosed location in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Official USAF Photo
Continued from Part I

Air Force Pararescue

"These things we do, that others may live." That's the official motto of Air Force Pararescue. If you have an aircrew member down in enemy territory, wounded or not, you can't get anyone better to pull him/her out of there than Air Force Pararescue.

The history of Pararescue began in August of 1943, when 21 persons bailed out of a disabled C-46 over an uncharted jungle near the China-Burma border. So remote was the crash site that the only means of getting help to the survivors was by paradrop. Lieutenant Colonel Don Fleckinger and two medical corpsmen volunteered for the assignment. This paradrop of medical corpsmen was the seed from which the concept of Pararescue was born. For a month these men, aided by natives, cared for the injured until the party was brought to safety. News commentator Eric Severeid was one of the men to survive this ordeal. He later wrote of the men who risked their lives to save his: "Gallant is a precious word; they deserve it".

From this event the need for a highly trained rescue force was found; thus, Pararescueman was brought into being. Rescues since then have occurred in virtually every corner of the world. Since that first rescue, many airmen,soldiers, soldiers,, and civilians have had first hand experience that when trouble strikes, Pararescuemen are ready to come to their aid.

Pararescue receive intensive training (the entire program lasts almost a year). There are eight separate schools that trainees attend. All trainees receive training to become fully-qualified emergency medicine technicians. They receive additional training in pararescue mountain/high angel rescue, advanced land navigation, small arms weapons handling, escape and evasion, small team tactics, survival procedures/techniques, pyrotechnics, Rapid Extrication Delivery System (REDS), chemical warfare survival, pararescue dirt medicine, advanced trauma life support with live tissue lab, tactical/rescue day/night land/water static line/free fall parachute insertions with/without equipment loads, Rigging Alternate Method-Zodiac (RAMZ), SCUBA, and alternate insertion/extraction AIE) from rotary wing aircraft.

Just to apply for Pararescue, applicants must pass a Physical Fitness Screening Test, known as the Pararescue Physical Ability & Stamina Test (PAST).

In addition to combat rescue, Pararescue often provides worldwide search, rescue and recovery assistance associated with aircraft accidents, disaster relief, humanitarian evacuation and contingency landing site support for NASA missions.

A Pararescueman can be recognized by his maroon beret.

Air Force Pararescue can be found stationed at Hurlburt Field, FL, Nellis AFB, NV, Kirtland AFB, NM, Lackland AFB, TX, Pope AFB, NC, Moody AFB, GA, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Keflavik Air Station, Iceland, and RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom. Additionally, there are National Guard Rescue Squadrons (with Pararescue assigned) located in several states.

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