The first medical corpsmen were airdropped in 1943 to a downed aircrew in a remote location on the China-Burma border. Pararescuemen, known at the time as para-jumpers or PJs, responded to the need for a highly trained rescue force. PJs begin to integrate scuba techniques into their tactics, jumping with more than 170 pounds of equipment.
PJs proved to be the premier rescue force rescuing downed pilots in the Vietnam War. They also recovered Gemini mission astronauts in the 1960s and San Francisco earthquake victims in 1989.
Pararescuemen continue to deploy so "That Others May Live" whenever they are called to help resolve international emergencies and humanitarian relief efforts.
Air Force Special Operations Command's pararescuemen, also known as PJs, are the only Department of Defense specialty specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional or unconventional rescue operations. These Battlefield Airmen are the ideal force for personnel recovery and combat search and rescue.
A pararescueman's primary function is as a personnel recovery specialist, with emergency medical capabilities in humanitarian and combat environments.They deploy in any available manner, to include air-land-sea tactics, into restricted environments to authenticate, extract, treat, stabilize and evacuate injured personnel, while acting in an enemy-evading, recovery role. PJs participate in search and rescue, combat search and rescue, recovery support for NASA and conduct other operations as appropriate.
Pararescuemen are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. military. They must maintain an emergency medical technician-paramedic qualification throughout their careers. With this medical and rescue expertise, along with their deployment capabilities, PJs are able to perform life-saving missions in the world's most remote areas.
Their motto "That Others May Live" reaffirms the pararescueman's commitment to saving lives and self-sacrifice. Without PJs, thousands of service members and civilians would have been unnecessarily lost in past conflicts and natural disasters.
Pararescuemen endure some of the toughest training offered in the U.S. military. Their training, as well as their unique mission, earns them the right to wear the maroon beret. They complete the same technical training as EMT-Paramedics, plus the following physical and specialized training.
Pararescue Preparatory Course
This two-week course provides physical training under the oversight of sports physiologists and swimming trainers to familiarize and teach the trainees the required skills to succeed in the Indoctrination course to follow.
This 10-week course recruits, selects and trains future PJs through extensive physical conditioning. Training accomplished at this course includes physiological training, obstacle course, marches, dive physics, dive tables, metric manipulations, medical terminology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, weapons qualifications, PJ history and leadership reaction course.
U.S. Army Airborne School
Trainees learn the basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop in a three-week course.
U.S. Air Force Combat Diver School
Trainees become combat divers, learning to use scuba and closed-circuit diving equipment to covertly infiltrate denied areas, conduct sub-surface searches and basic recovery operations. The six-week course provides training to depths of 130 feet, stressing development of maximum underwater mobility under various operating conditions.
U.S. Navy Underwater Egress Training
This course teaches how to safely escape from an aircraft that has ditched in the water. The one-day instruction includes principles, procedures and techniques necessary to get out of a sinking aircraft.
U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School
This two and a half-week course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. Instruction includes principles, procedures, equipment and techniques, which enable individuals to survive, regardless of climatic conditions or unfriendly environments and return home.
U.S. Army Military Free Fall Parachutist School
This course instructs trainees in free fall parachuting procedures. The five-week course provides wind tunnel training, in-air instruction focusing on student stability, aerial maneuvers, air sense and parachute opening procedures.
This 22-week course teaches how to manage trauma patients prior to evacuation and provide emergency medical treatment. Upon graduation, an EMT-Paramedic certification is awarded through the National Registry.
Pararescue Recovery Specialist Course
Qualifies airmen as pararescue recovery specialists for assignment to any pararescue unit worldwide. The 24-week training includes field medical care and extrication basics, field tactics, mountaineering, combat tactics, advanced parachuting and helicopter insertion/extraction.