Air Force Pararescuemen, also known as PJs, are the only DoD elite combat forces specifically organized, trained, equipped, and postured to conduct full spectrum Personnel Recovery (PR) to include both conventional and unconventional combat rescue operations. These Battlefield Airmen are the most highly trained and versatile Personnel Recovery specialists in the world. Pararescue is the nation's force of choice to execute the most perilous, demanding, and extreme rescue missions anytime, anywhere across the globe. The 500+ PJs are assigned to Guardian Angel and Special Tactics Squadrons throughout the Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve Air Force components. They operate most often as independent teams but routinely serve alongside with other US and Allied Special Operations Forces.
To rescue, recover, and return American or Allied forces in times of danger or extreme duress. Whether shot down or isolated behind enemy lines; surrounded, engaged, wounded, or captured by the enemy; PJs will do whatever required to deny the enemy a victory and bring our warriors home to fight another day. "Leave no Airman, Marine, Soldier, or Sailor behind" is our nation's supreme promise and responsibility to our brave war fighters. The Air Force holds true to this moral imperative. Personnel Recovery is an Air Force Core Function; one of twelve functions the Air Force provides the nation. The PJs are the elite ground forces that provide our nation with the capability to execute this noble responsibility.
To execute the PR mission, Pararescue teams assault, secure, and dominate the rescue objective area utilizing any available DoD or Allied, air, land, or sea asset. Their qualifications and capabilities are extensive. All PJs are qualified experts in Advanced Weapons and Small Unit Tactics, Airborne and Military Free Fall, both High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) and High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) parachute operations, Combat Divers, High Angle/Confined Space Rescue operations, Small Boat/Vehicle Craft utilization, Rescue Swimmers, and Battlefield Trauma/Paramedics. All can fast rope/rappel/hoist from any vertical lift aircraft to both land and open ocean rescue objectives. All PJs can perform both static line and HALO jump operations utilizing boats, vehicles, or other equipment from any fixed wing aircraft. In addition, 1 in 12 personnel are tandem jump qualified and can HALO/HAHO both equipment and non-jump personnel into the objective area. As required, all PJs can jump in with and utilize extrication devices to remove war fighters or civilians trapped in wreckage or collapse structures. PJs also utilize the latest subsurface technology to locate and recover submerged equipment or personnel.
Since 9/11 alone, these elite warriors have executed over 12,000 life saving, combat rescue missions. They've also eliminated and captured numerous enemy combatants during the execution of these missions. Additionally, because of their unique capabilities, they have been called upon to rescue over 5000 civilians worldwide during catastrophic natural disasters and other responses.
PJs are the most highly decorated Air Force enlisted force. They've been awarded one Medal of Honor, 12 Air Force Crosses, and 105 Silver Stars.
Their motto, "These Things We Do, That Others May Live," affirms Pararescue's dedication and commitment to saving lives and self-sacrifice. As of January 2012, 10 pararescueman have been killed in action and paid the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.