USAF Pararescue Jumper heritage

| July 25, 2013

As many of you know, I spent about 2 weeks running around with PJ’s earlier this year in Arizona and New Mexico. One night when we were out imbibing a few adult beverages I talked to one of the senior NCO’s about their job and the kind of men they were looking for. He said something that stuck with me:

Unlike the other Special Ops units, we don’t measure success in the number of enemy lives taken, we measure success in terms of the number of friendly lives we save.

Which is not to say that PJ’s don’t bring the mayhem when it is needed. Just look at the various silver stars and other medals they’ve earned. But their primary task, their raison d’être if you will, is getting folks out alive. And they are amazing at it. The training these guys go through is pretty sick. And they may have the easy cockiness of most the special ops guys I’ve been around, but they really are fundamentally a different group of people. I would hazard a guess that the number of people who know what green berets or “SEAL Team 6” is probably dwarfs the number who know what PJ’s do by orders of magnitude.

Anyway, one of our readers forwarded this video. It matches nicely what I have been reasearching, although it only briefly mentions the August ’43 jump to rescue a bunch of folks, including CBS reporter Eric Sevareid. I actually have his book sitting right here, and he says of the PJs:

Gallant is a precious word: they deserve it.

Here’s the video:

Our emailer adds:

There was a mention in one of the threads about a video about USAF PJs; this video is now in a Competition (see link below). I know that the PJ who did this and he is staying low and does not know (yet) that I am requesting this. But this is something that most of the people who come to TAH should like and want to vote on. If they can vote for the POS in the SV they should be able to vote for someone who not only did serve as a PJ and retired, but continues to help and serve the PJ community.

So, please get this to TAH and remember if you can stuff the box (ballot) for a POS you should want to stuff this box also. And no “shots” are needed after stuffing this box.

Our existence at TAH is predicated on two things, which are inter-related. Make the jackwagons who lie about their service famous, but also make those who have earned the fame even more famous. Getting out the story of what we did when we served, and what our brothers did is more than just a mission, I would argue it is the responsibility of every man and woman who served, or who honors in any way those who did.

So please go vote on this. This is the kind of film making we should venerate and reward. If the only ones telling their stories are the downtrodden chairborne rangers with tales of discontent, we lose as a country and as veterans.

Category: Politics

Comments (25)

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  1. Old Tanker says:

    Always great to offset the jackassery of Stolen Valor pimples with men of REAL valor!

  2. ChipNASA says:

    Hand Salute to my PJ brethren. Thankfully in my 23 years, I never needed their service directly.

  3. Sparks says:

    That is the Air Force I remember. I have the utmost respect and give the utmost honor to PJ’s! They go through some of the longest, most brutal training of any service to do what they do…save lives. Always willing to put their own life at risk, “That Others May Live”. They were a Godsend in my time in Vietnam and they are still a Godsend to all who need them, whenever and where ever. I gave a big Awesome vote to this video. Thanks TAH for remembering this oft forgotten, little known force of heroes.

  4. O-4E says:

    Here is a great NatGeo documentary about PJs in Afghanistan:

  5. rb325th says:

    Voted! Have a ton of respect for PJ’s!

  6. Ex-PH2 says:


  7. Sparks says:

    @4 Thanks for the link!

  8. MGySgtRet. says:

    @4 That was a great series. Ran about 8 or 9 episodes. Really enjoyed it.

  9. Devtun says:


    The late SrA Jason D. Cunningham, prior to joining the Air Force, was a Petty Officer in the Navy & considered trying to become a SEAL (actually completed Frogman fitness test), but had a change of heart…decided to become a PJ.

    Here is a quote from SrA Cunningham in a Air Force magazine article featuring PJ training from several years ago…

    Said Cunningham: “Motivation week is downright evil. It’s ugly … chaotic. It’s nonstop training, constant screaming, smoke sessions one after the other, and only a couple hours of sleep a night. When you finally get a chance to put your head on a pillow at night, you’re out in seconds.

  10. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Devtun … thanks I did not know that … Good gouge!

  11. Hondo says:

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Vote for Pedro”, doesn’t it.

    These guys are indeed deserving of respect.

  12. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ Devtun … I just read the article … Cunningham was clearly a special kid even early on in training.

    My favorite quote from the article:

    One Army Special Forces sergeant major, who asked not to be identified, said, “PJs are the best trained special ops forces in the Defense Department – bar none – but you’ll never hear me admit that in public.”

    Here is the link again … aticle would have been more that 13 years ago:

  13. Devtun says:


    Will always be overlooked. Direct action, kinetic, hunter/killer door kickers (SEALS, Rangers, ST6, Delta) are more easily relatable to the masses & posers…translates well to movies, books, and video games.

  14. The subject is great, and Air Force PJs are true heroes!

    BUT – – – ,

    The quality of this film is substandard and needs to be completely redone.

    The gal gushing through the script like an overexcited third grader needs to be replaced by a male who knows how to read a script on a live stage.

    A female voice simply does not possess the same power of commanding projection that a male voice does.

    Several of the text entries need to be properly repositioned and/or spaced.

    The music needs to be rerecorded and modulated so that the words of the singer and/or the narrator aren’t drowned out by the instruments.

    Could you understand the lyrics that were being sung?

    I couldn’t.

    Shucks, I couldn’t understand most of the audio.

    Obviously, a lot of work went into creating this video, and it’ll be an excellent Pararescue promotional video – – – once it’s been properly corrected and redone.

  15. Brent Glines says:

    Never met a fighter pilot who would let a PJ buy his own drink. God bless ’em!

  16. I voted says:

    Apparently to vote all you need to do is hover over the Rating Stars. The top 10 will be rated by a panel of judges.

    The female voice I believe is the PJs daughter. Film might not be the best, might not win; but it sure beats a movie just showing a bunch of ladies walking and standing.

    If we can stuff Tesla’s ballot box we should be able to stuff this one also

  17. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    I just voted twice. Once from my desk top and once from the idiot next to me who left his puter on! I am surrounded by monkeys here!

  18. FormerUSN says:

    Watched every minute of Ngc’s “Inside Combat Rescue”. The PJ’s are awesome. Will vote most ricky tick.

  19. Thunderstixx says:

    To be a Oararescue in the Air Force, you learn all that the Seal’s, Ranger’s, Recon Marine’s and all Specops personnel…

    Then they learn about traumatic medicine because the pilot may be severely injured and the rescue personnel has to be able to stabilize the pt. before the pt can be moved !!!

    Truly the best of the best.

  20. bigjohn says:

    I was honored to take a wounded PJ from WRAMC to Arlington for the funeral of his buddy who was KIA.The fly over of a C-130 a very low pass was humbling…. I was then honored as a Veteran when they cleared the room of civilians for a traditional toast to their fallen comrade to remain in the company of such men as we doffed rusty nails in memory of their friend. My boyhood friend Donato was in that line of work. I had it easy….

  21. B Woodman says:

    “Make the jackwagons who lie about their service INfamous, . . ”
    There, fixed it for ya. You’re welcome.

  22. Bobo says:

    One of my National Guard soldiers successfully completed the pre-screening for the PJs. This guy was a former infantry NCO with 3/75 Ranger, had combat time, a black belt, a PT stud, and was working on a graduate degree in neuroscience. He said that the pre-screening was one of the most physically and mentally demanding testing that he had ever done. Unfortunately, he was told that someone at the recruiting station screwed up, and that they weren’t looking for prior service guys after they told him that he was a go.

  23. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    BoBo … That is odd. Many PJ are other prior service (active and reserve). Sounds more like a temporary quota thing. But what and who do – know … I am just a former BT.

  24. Jilly says:

    1971 U.S. Air Force documentary about Pararescue and Air Rescue in Vietnam