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No matter how high or how far

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Robert Dantzler
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Public Affairs
Within the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron lies a special group of servicemembers setup here. You hope you never have to call them, but if you do, rest assured they’ll be loaded up and on their way in minutes. They are the PJ’s.

These pararescuemen go through two years of grueling training ranging from stress inoculation, dive school, para-medic training, survive, evasion, resistance, and escape training, and Army airborne training. Their primary mission is to execute combat search and rescue operations. If a plane goes down or an armed forces member gets injured or stranded behind enemy lines, they jump into an aircraft appropriate for that mission and they set off to collect whoever needs their help.

They may repel down from an HH-60G Pave Hawk or parachute out of a C-130. It all depends on the terrain, altitude, distance, and a multitude of other factors. But when boots hit the ground, they are prepared for combat and medical care in the most harrowing of circumstances. To ensure they’re always ready, they are required to complete mission rehearsals as part of a validation process roughly every 4 months.

One pararescueman at Bagram described why this is necessary to the mission.

“It is important for the pilot’s to know, that no matter how far their operations take them, there is always a way to get to them, no matter the distance or the altitude.”

On April 27 and 30, 2016, the PJ’s from the 83rd loaded up into a C-130J Super Hercules from the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, and performed their static line parachute jumps as part of a mission rehearsal. They loaded up with all the gear they would have on a mission, locked on to the static lines inside the C-130J, checked and double checked their gear, and once the green light turned on, they jumped.

It takes courage to jump out of an airplane or run into combat to protect an isolated servicemember.

When asked what the most fulfilling part of this job is, the same PJ replied, “The most fulfilling part for me, because I have a family of my own, is getting to bring back other service members so they can be with their families again.”

Mission rehearsals like this ensure that pararescuemen at Bagram are ready to answer the call 24/7 in the vast terrain and environment throughout Afghanistan.