Whatever It Takes: Facts

Video highlights from Inside Combat Rescue


  • PJ training lasts two years, and is so grueling that 90% of candidates "wash out", or don't make it.

  • One exercise that encourages bonding between a flight class is carrying around a 450-pound iron railroad track during training.

  • The modern version of the PJs took shape during WWII in 1943 over the Burmese jungle, when several airmen volunteered to parachute to a remote location where the crew of a downed aircraft had been stranded without supplies.

  • Pararescuemen wear a special maroon beret, symbolizing the blood that they have and will shed in order to aid others in need.

  • The motto of the Pararescuemen is "That Others May Live."

  • The job of a pararescueman goes beyond military conflicts. When the Gemini 8 space flight, including astronaut, Neil Armstrong, was aborted, Pararescuemen from a base in Okinawa, Japan were first on scene to help the astronauts when they splashed in to the Pacific Ocean.

  • Since the Vietnam War, it has been a tradition for PJs to tattoo two green footprints on their buttocks.

  • Pararescue training does not throw anyone out. The serviceman must be the one to quit himself.

  • With only 400 members, PJs are the smallest United States military unit.

  • Pararescue trainees usually have a body fat level less than 13%.

  • Pararescue trainees should be able to run three miles in under 21 minutes before beginning training.

  • Ketamine was developed in 1962, and began to be used in battle shortly after.

  • Ketamine is also used illicitly and recreationally, leading the government to consider it a Schedule III controlled substance since 1999.

  • Pneumothorax, or air in the chest cavity, is the second highest preventable killer of soldiers wounded on the battlefield.

  • The first line of defense against severe bleeding or amputation is the application of a tourniquet, a device used to constrict or compress blood vessels, to prevent hemorrhage.

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