Air Force Pj | Pararescue Men Specialists

One of the bravest things an individual can do is risk their life to save another. Air Force pararescuemen do that for a living, specifically trained and equipped to execute the most dangerous and technical rescue operations worldwide, regardless of enemy threat or environmental conditions. If a service member is in need of assistance or help, there’s no length a PJ won’t go to get them to safety. PJs are quite literally the guardian angels of the US military, from downed pilots, special operators, and even some civilians in certain circumstances. If you need to be saved, you can bet that a PJ can get the job done.

Air Force PJs have been risking their lives to save another for decades. As the most decorated enlisted field in the Air Force, their Medal of Honor, twelve Air Force crosses, and 105 Silver Stars speak for themselves. There are several stories and accounts of PJs heroically saving personnel and sacrificing themselves, affirming their dedication and commitment to saving lives and self sacrifice. But what is an Air Force PJ? How are they so effective at saving lives?

What makes them so legendary in the soft community? And for those with the courage and ambition to embark on the journey to becoming one, what does it take? We’re going to answer all those questions for you and much more. This is Air Force PJs.

When a civilian needs rescue, they call 911. When a Navy SEAL, green beret, or Army Ranger on a mission needs rescue, who do they call? Well, if you didn’t get the memo by now, they call the PJs. In fact, PJs are the only specialty in the military specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional or unconventional rescue operations. Whether you’re shot down, isolated behind enemy lines, surrounded, engaged, wounded, or captured by the enemy, they will do whatever it takes to bring you home to fight another day.

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Good luck on your journey. Now back to Air Force PJs. PJs are combat medics and rescue specialists, meaning that not only do they have to learn how to save lives, they got to learn how to fight too. That’s what makes them unique in the soft community. They put an emphasis on both their medical capabilities and their lethality.

It comes with the job description. If you want to save people from dangerous situations, you got to be dangerous yourself. This is what enables them to operate in the full spectrum of personnel recovery. Make no mistake, while a PJ is ready for almost anything that gets in front of them, if they could have it their way, they’d want to get in and get out and avoid any unnecessary confrontation. No fuss, no mus, a PJ once said, unlike other operators who search and destroy, PJs search and save, they’re just as accurate with their weapons as they are with their syringes and just as skilled in taking lives as they are saving them.

They’re quite literally the jack of all trades and are often embedded in other soft units for their medical and operator expertise. Air Force PJs primarily operate in two distinct capacities in the Air Force Rescue squadrons and special tactics squadrons. The rescue squadrons are where you see a majority of the pjs, where they stand by and train constantly in all things search and rescue. The special tactics squadrons are where you see them in more of an operator capacity. And believe it or not, some of the National Guard pjs are in squadrons where they’re tasked with saving civilians who get in sticky situations such as those in Alaska.

Regardless of where they’re placed, PJs are renowned and utilized for their extensive medical capabilities. Each PJ is a registered paramedic walking out of the pipeline and constantly improves and perfects their medical knowledge as the needs and demands of the search and rescue missions evolve. To name a few, they learn minor field surgery, pharmacology, combat trauma management, advanced airway management, and military evacuation procedures. This is why so many soft units want and need a PJ embedded with them. They’re the perfect addition with the skills they possess.

But don’t think soft units are the only ones wanting to work with these elite warriors. Because of their expertise in helicopter operations, swiftwater rescues, mass casualty care, technical extrication, and medical care, they’re a perfect fit as a primary assistance partner for FEMA, USAID and other local led disaster responses. Hell, even NASA uses them. But PJs don’t just walk into the recruiting office this badass. In order to become a PJ, candidates can expect a long and grueling journey ahead of them.

With that said, what does it take to become a PJ? Nicknamed the Superman school, the pipeline to becoming a PJ is one of the longest in the US military. As we discussed earlier, PJs are a jack of all trades. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop those skills that many service members will rely on in future missions. From start to finish, a PJ candidate can expect to take around two years before they domin that maroon beret.

They’ll attend courses ranging from jump school, dive school, free fall seer medical courses. The list goes on and on. But don’t think that once a newly minted PJ who just got done with the pipeline is 100% ready to go running and gunning and saving lives. The pipeline is where they learn the fundamental building blocks of their foundation and their training has only just begun. Because of their broad skill sets, they are continually engaged throughout their time as a PJ to stay sharp on their skills.

When you see a PJ, you’ll know they’re one of the best of the best because the path to becoming a PJ weeds out around 80% of those who are up for the challenge. That’s one of the highest attrition rates in the entire us special operations community. The PJs don’t just let anyone try out. For their prestigious community to even be considered, applicants must possess the minimum requirements laid out by AFspec war recruiting and must be able to crush the IFT, formerly known as the past. The initial fitness test is one of the filters that PJs use to weed out those who aren’t in good enough shape.

The IFT consists of two underwater swims, a surface swim, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, and a mile and a half run. While there are minimum scores for most of these events, applicants must crush the minimums to even be considered. These high standards maintain the high bar that is set by the PJ community. At the end of the day, PJs are the embodiment of their motto. These things we do that others may live.

They are willing to go anywhere at any time, by whatever means necessary to retrieve and rescue those who need it. PJs aren’t the only cool, soft job in the Air force. We’ve done a video discussing other air force special operations jobs. Go give it a look. If you’re interested, the link to the video will be in the description below and if that isn’t enough for you, go check out the YouTube channel ones ready.

They have some valuable firsthand insight and great information out there about all things Air Force special warfare. We’ll leave their channel link in the description below. Well, that is the down and dirty of the Air Force PJs. If you learned something from this video, make sure to give us a like and subscribe to our channel. As always, thank you for watching.

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Life is a special operation

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