Training so others may live

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sean Campbell
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
If a member of the United States armed or allied forces is isolated behind enemy lines, surrounded by enemy engagement, or captured, it’s the mission of the Air Force’s elite rescue Airmen, to return them home.

Air Force Pararescuemen are the only elite, American task force with direct focus and training to provide full-spectrum personnel recovery operations in conventional and unconventional warfare.

Recently, PJs assigned to the 68th Rescue Squadron out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, spent three days at Fairchild Air Force Base training with 36th RQS to get familiarized with the UN-H1 Huey airframe.

“On the first day, we started with land alternate insurgent and extraction methods,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Peters, 68th RQS pararescueman training instructor. “This included fast rope, rappel and hoist work.”

During the second day, the PJs conducted water operations from the Hueys. Low and slow freefall swimmers jumped into water and fast-roped to save patients from the water. The integration of the Huey and PJs are needed for the teams to communicate with each other while they are on location.

For the last day of training they executed an isolated personnel operation from start to finish.

“Pararescuemen started with flying out to the location and identifying the patient on the ground,” said Peters. Then they lower themselves to the destination with a fast rope to make contact with the person on the ground. Once contact is made, they PJs perform any medical attention the patients require on the way to the hospital.

The 68th RQS is the formal training unit for the Air Force’s Guardian Angel Weapon System, training PJs and combat rescue officers. The 68th RQS helps PJs and CROs meet combat capability requirements and enhances integration with joint combat forces by providing advanced skill upgrades and proficiency training.

“This training is a huge part of getting Airmen to be mission qualified PJs,” said Peters. “This is a huge part of the upgrade that they need to work in the areas of operation we are currently in.”

Fairchild is a beneficial location to train due to its unique training areas that are close to different landing locations. This allows the helicopter to conduct more repetitions of the training exercises.

“There are a lot of high altitude training areas as well as a close-water support area and it’s simply a fantastic training area,” said Peters.

PJs start out their training with a selection course at Joint-Base San Antonio, Texas. Before the trainees can attend their apprentice course, they must complete dive school, survival school, emergency medical technician basic and a paramedic course. From there, they go to the apprentice course which is a six-month school where they cover all of the basics of being a pararescuemen.

The training at Fairchild is part of a seven-week course that allows the certified PJs to deploy down range.

This training is provided to PJs so they can do the best possible job in helping Americans return home safely. Their mantra, “That Others May Live,” is not taken lightly by these trained professionals who, at a moment’s notice, would run toward the gunfire to rescue their comrades.