Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why PJs are Awesome

One last post before I embark on my trip (*silent scream*) to highlight the amazing skill set PJs have. These guys are put through the ringer to make sure they have operational capabilities in all terrains and climates on land, air and sea. They are paramedic qualified and must remain so throughout their service. By the end of their training, they can do pretty much everything except major surgery out in the field while under enemy fire. That alone is impressive, but there's more.

PJs are jump qualified in both static line drop and freefall (HALO) jumps. If you don't know what a High Altitude Low Opening jump is, you'll see a snippet of one in the clip to follow. Google it if you want more info, but basically anyone who can perform them has to be nuts. PJs need this capability in order to be dropped in to a target area, and that's when the bulk of their training comes into play. Obviously they're extensively trained in combat and survival tactics, since they frequently operate behind enemy lines or in denied areas.

They attend Combat Diver school. They must pass Underwater Egress training where they're taught how to escape a sinking aircraft (makes me shiver just thinking about it, but if you're interested you can watch the end of The Perfect Storm to see the Nighthawk pilot bailing out of his sinking helo). Then they top it off with a kind of baptism-by-fire apprenticeship where they get their final training while assigned to a team out in the field. Hello gut-check.

All this and much more, for the privilege of wearing the coveted maroon beret and risking their lives to save others. I can't imagine the pay's that great, so let's hope job satisfaction makes up for the deficit. Here's another clip from the Pararescue website, detailing the training and missions a PJ faces. All I know is, I'm glad there are brave men willing to step up and take on this job "so that others may live".