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In the heart of the fighting are the Pararescuemen (PJs) of the 38th Rescue Squadron, who have made it their mission to risk their lives to save those in peril. When the rescue call rings out, the PJs rush to the extraction point in Pave Hawk helicopters.
Four teams of PJs and CROs work around the clock to make sure the casualties of war get a second chance. This series takes away from the SOLDIERS that do the same job with out the giant guns attached to the aircraft, in my 10 years in the MEDEVAC community I have not once met a PJ in a combat zone, not saying they don’t do it or deserve respect, the series just makes the Air force seem like they are the only ones that do it. Btw, I am a vet, so no need to throw the service thing in my face as it will fall on deaf ears.
I am not talking negitively about what the PJ’s do, but what this show and that America needs to be educated about their entire military not just special operations.
PJs are trained in military free fall, combat dive, small teams tactics along with their medical training. Does anyone know what those sunglasses are that most of the PJ’s are wearing in the series???
My name is Hugo Hernan Saenz Mora, I would like to congratulate all the National Geographic Film team, for this incredible and outstanding job on the TV documentary, Combat Rescue! Does anyone know what the “undershirt” is that the new guy with the baby wears while they are just chilling at the base? Yes, Pararescue is one of the two USAF Special Forces units, the other being Combat Controllers. Second, yes, we might seem special because of our 90+ day deployments, but we do them every year, why you might ask only 120-180 day deployments? But not to degrade you or anything, just wanted to clear a few things up, and besides, we all do the same mission, and that is to bring the war fighter home. Not long after, the unit receives grim news: insurgents have launched a major attack in Kandahar City, the former stronghold of the Taliban. The laughter breaks when a call for help results from a father rushing his two Afghan children, critically injured by an explosion, to a small, military outpost. But the team must face an important mission: a Special Forces medic is gravely wounded by an IED blast and in need of immediate rescue. The part where they pick up the medic, load him into the chopper and then his fellow soldiers all lean in and kiss him and say their goodbyes (because as the narrator says its possible he may not survive) is truly one of the most moving things I have ever seen on television.
Walt from Independence, VA who posted above, do you have a link where i could read about the medic and his current status, you said he is back on active duty…? That said, hats off to to the PJs (and to NATGEO for giving us this opportunity for an inside look at what they go through). Steve as a home town sheep dog I take honor to see your efforts I’m a Master Firefighter in the City of Fayetteville and I have to say role on brother, role on. Fresh out of the PJ schoolhouse, first-time deployers Chris and Lucas move from the beach to the battlefield when they are thrust into the war in Afghanistan with no experience in real combat. Chris’ interest in medicine started when he was a lifeguard; a man collapsed on the shore, and Chris had no idea what was wrong or how to save him. Lucas’s single mother played a huge part in instilling the drive and morals it takes to risk it all for another. Both rookies are thrown into the fire when the call to rescue drops: four Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and one American are in critical condition after an enemy attack and a deadly IED blast. While preparing their weapons to fight their way into an area still hot, one 50-caliber machine gun malfunctions. After the mission, Chris and Lucas meet by the restaurants at Kandahar Airfield’s boardwalk.
The final call to rescue is for a civilian injured by an IED blast and in critical condition. These men are few men not looking for fame, They help our soldiers on their darkest day to make a difference. Just wanted to say huge props to Chris for “criching” the Afghan wounded soldier!!! David Clawson, a member of the National Geographic film crew, captures the action as a pararescueman from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., secure the area while an HH-60 Pave Hawk arrives to whisk them out of harma€™s way. Davis, originally from Kissimmee, Fla., earned his beret in 2010 after completing three grueling years of training to become an elite CRO. Air Force special operators are like other special forces teams, preferring to be silent heroes.
Davis said that he was approached about the TV show, he was getting ready for his third deployment as a CRO, and he didn't exactly jump at the opportunity. However, when Air Force leadership approved National Geographic's request to do the show, Davis said he saluted smartly and complied with the order. The National Geographic crew filmed out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, for seven weeks, which was about half of the deployment for Davis' team during the summer of 2012. The sixth and final episode of Inside Combat Rescue airs tonight, culminating a 14-month collaboration between National Geographic Channel and the U.S. Tonight’s finale comes nearly two months after National Geographic Channel hosted the first screening of the series at the U.S.
While the Academy is much like any college around the country, reminders of war echo throughout the grounds. In an auditorium 200 yards from the Academy’s dark granite war memorial listing graduates killed in combat, the standing-room only crowd asked varied questions ranging from embed logistics and filming techniques to details of pararescue training and deployed life. Jared McGilliard, Inside Combat Rescue series producer, acknowledged that he battled this reality throughout filming and post-production. Major Devin Ryan, a HH-60G helicopter pilot said, “I have no problem that combat rescue and personnel recovery gets romanticized. While the Academy audience has some understanding of the costs of war, an overwhelming majority of Americans likely do not. Author Donald Anderson writes in When War Becomes Personal, “If it seems to fall to the historian to make distinctions among wars, each war’s larger means and ends, the trajectory for the artist, regardless of culture or time, seems to fall towards an individual’s disillusionment, the means and ends of war played out in the personal.
With Inside Combat Rescue, we’re lucky to see some first-person perspectives from America’s longest war. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense or United States government. It is so very true that the general public like me get the Hollywood version of war all the time, or the glorification of it; but National G. We need more shows like this one to show the true horror and cost of battle and the fine men like the PJs who risk their life in trying to save others. Thank you for an exceptional program, I sincerely hope that this was not a one-and-done series.
First and foremost, I want to thank Brett and Eric, my sons who both served and still serve their country. I saw an episode where the rescuer said they did not have a chance to honor the fallen soldier, but I think just by being there and being willing to do what you do you have honored every fallen soldier ever. I want to thank everyone for their service to our country and Nat Geo for bringing us their stories. Big fan of NG docs,huge fan of this one.Just one question :got the PJ and CRO acronyms but what the PJTL stands for? This series needs to keep going it is very well done and everyone that I know that has seen it has loved it!! Just wanted to say every Pj in this show are amazing people and you all are a huge inspiration to me.


I am so happy to have the privilege of watching our heroes and giving them the honor they deserve. The PJ’s race through a dust storm to pick up an Afghani child that has been shot in the head. For the first time in their history, the PJs allow camera crews to extensively cover their missions in Afghanistan. Talented pilots and gun crews give the PJs the best chance at completing their mission quickly and without any loss of life. Senior Airman Barry shares a moment with his parents before boarding the plane with the others.
As a Combat Rescue Officer (CRO) it is his job to strategize the missions and make sure that his PJs make it out alive. Team Leader Duane has 17 years of active duty behind him while Staff Sergeant Brett has six deployments in the past five years. And next time you might want to watch yourself before you post something you obviously know nothing about. Because we are trained paramedics, which we have to re certify every 2 years, on top of many other certs. We are mainly tasked with casevac, which according to Geneva conventions, any medical transport with the David’s cross HAS to be unarmed.
Which means, they are special operations forces that often do nothing but train, prepare, and execute special operations missions, hence the fact that you might not see PJs that often, not only because theyre are 600+ PJS in the world, whereas they’re are 10,000 combat medics.
Now on his sixth deployment, the mental and emotional toll from experiencing the carnage of war first hand is a consequence he reluctantly accepts. The team marks imaginary targets with smoke grenades for the aircrews to unload their Pave Hawk’s rapid-fire miniguns.
Eric, Brett, and Steve, must land in an area they are unsure is clear of enemy mines to rescue two Americans injured by gunshots and shrapnel. While the children are gravely wounded, the new rules of engagement could prevent the team from being able to rescue the kids. After watching Inside Combat Rescue my admiration for these wonderful men and women has risen to new heights!
Anyone in this country should be extreamly grateful to any and all of our military men and women.
Danger waits for the PJs too; reports say that insurgents are still in the area of the attack, ready to strike again.
The two PJs feel like they have been transported from the desert to the Santa Cruz beachfront, as they order ice cream shakes and watch servicemen play volleyball. It’s good to see that the USAF finally let you guys get some press, because you deserve it and a heck of a lot more!
Ive been a civilian medic for almost 9 years and I still don’t even like to start and IV in a moving ambo!! Air Force, when a television production crew covered Air Force combat rescue officers and pararescuemen conducting missions in Afghanistan. Seth Davis was the detachment commander during the filming, and he is now the commander of the U.S.
The career field has fewer than 100 officers, including active-duty, Air National Guard and Reserve.
CROs and PJs rescue American and Allied forces behind enemy lines, and rarely talk about what they do. Davis said he wants people to know that the footage on the series is only one small part of what CROs and PJs do.
Devin Ryan discusses his role in combat rescue operations as shown in the National Geographic Channel documentary "Inside Combat Rescue" at the Air Force Academy Feb. He came to the conclusion that one way to guard against war’s glorification is to honestly portray the real costs. Inside Combat Rescue may help narrow the gap in understanding between the 99 percent of Americans who have no connections with the military during these wars and the 1 percent who do, and the even smaller percentage who have been involved in combat.
It really put things into perspective and makes you realize the things you take for granted on a daily basis.
Amid all the other garbage that is being shown on television right now, this was by far one of the most genuine and interesting things I have watched in a long time. I want to thank the Nat Geo film crew, the producers and all involved, as the shows were done very well and told the story of what the PJs do and are faced with on a daily basis. The men whose lives were put in front of America exemplified what honor , duty and compassion really mean. This series not only showed the realities of war, it told the story of the men and women who do the work. People need to realize that war is real, so far mostly only books show that reality, this is a great way to show the reality of it.
I had the chance in USAF basic training to take the Para-rescue fitness test but I heard what the wash out rate was and didn’t want to lose my promised job as a Firefighter! I am a graduate of the university of florida and now I understand why priority is given to veterans when employment opportunities arise. Inside Combat Rescue is the story of the lives of these elite airmen on and off the battlefield. Although Afghanistan is his first deployment, he has trained hard for the opportunity and aims to hit the ground running. Captain Seth, the Unit Commander, also offers his advice to the PJs, making sure they stay sharp during the hard months of deployment. Group and had the honor to meet other rescue teams from the af true hero’s and brothers we are all blessed as Americans and especially as veterans to have these guys all indetited to you guys thank you. No matter what anyone on this forum thinks every soldier no matter what branch should be given the respect that he or she deserves. Also, I would like to thank all the USAF Rescue Teams, and the bravest men on earth, the USAF PJs! So, in essence, where you would go in with fire support , PJs go in to the heat of battle, armed as such with two gunships. But his best friend Eric, a new father, refuses to let that happen, hoping to return to his family the same man they loved before deployment.
I hope everyone who watches this show has more respect and compassion for our returning soldiers and their families. This mess we live in is still the greatest country on the planet, thanks to all of the sacrifices of these people. My son is third generation Air Force and someone from our family has been in the military as far back as the Civil War. I’m from Malaysia and been watching this very inspiring documentary and looking forward to watch next episode.
After making it through the training pipeline for pararescue, Chris is confident that when the time comes, he will know what to do.
Their information on the wounded changes by the second, but knowing multiple soldiers are clinging to life, they push on.
There are numerous soldiers wounded, but none are in the serious condition the INTEL reported. He recognizes the bitter price innocent people have had to pay in Afghanistan, and that it is their duty to save them. The question I have do they pick up the men who are fighting against terror aka the afgan soliders?


Some times the show is difficult to watch but it is so important that people see the sacrifice our soldiers are making. The resulting six-episode series, "Inside Combat Rescue," aired on the National Geographic channel in February and March. During National Geographic's' filming, most of the calls that came in were for medical evacuation, although personnel recovery is a large part of the mission that was not shown.
In this episode, Coming Home, we see the various meanings of these words and the very real costs of war.
But tidy memorials and historical vignettes do little to put a human face on war, and these abstractions can drown out the grim realities. Much respect to the Para rescuers and the armed forces and thanks to the Nat Geo team for making it possible to film it.
He has opened my eyes to how incredible these guys are, and this show does a great job of backing that up, and portraying what their world consists of.
Karen (the boy’s Mom) and I are so Proud of Brett what he has accomplished in the Air Force and the man he has become because of what he does. As a former submariner, I can appreciate the risk these guys take, even though until this program, I never really thought about who would be doing this work. Incredible stories that highlight the true human cost of war, the courage and life on the front line and also a windows into home life. You men show the viewers of this show how the military makes a difference for this country and I will be honored to one day serve with you.
Although it was gritty, I wanted her to see and realize what our brave and skilled service men and women struggle with so far away from home. Jeff knows this is exactly where he should be and embraces the dangers he and the men will face. And I mean no disrespect to the fallen and I’ve lost friends of my own so how dare you try to through that In my face. Not saying you wouldn’t, but that is the main focus of a casevac mission, to get that casualty out and to advance treatment center, hence the term, golden hour. Steve, a PJ on the first deployment of his career, is confident his training has prepared him for the physical and mental challenges that await him in Afghanistan.
When they ignore the helicopter’s warning flares to stay away, the unit must make a decision to hold their ground or abandon their training and return to the safe confines of the base.
When the helicopter departs and the PJs begin treating the wounded Americans, enemy fire shifts from attacking ground forces to attacking the air. The courage of the recue people is total valor and unconditional commitment for thier fellow soldiers. Chris’ team lands first, while Lucas’ helicopter provides cover with their operating machine gun. Thomas, the commanding PJ on Chris’ team, makes the call for his aircraft to take them onboard. The pilots fly at low altitudes to help the flow of air, but the civilian struggles against the oxygen mask. It became the channel's highest-rated new series of 2012-13, according to National Geographic. Ryan is a 2001 Academy graduate and an HH-60 Pave Hawk pilot with the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Inside Combat Rescue strips away the politics, rhetoric, and posturing to provide a personal view of the conflict.
Thank You National Geographic for showing what these brave, smart, dedicated, and heroic men do for a living. As a nurse I know what its like to try and start an IV on a crashing patient but to do it on helicopter in a war zone, you have my utmost respect.
I’m thankful to be an American and have such brave soldiers like them serving our country. I saw on one episode of Combat Rescue that PJ Chris was from Winston-Salem, I’d like to get a hold of him and and give him one of my Rescue 1 shirts. As the rookie in his three-person team, Barry gets many chances to prove his worth and learn on the job.
These are the medics and flight crews who go in when no one else does UNARMED and many times by themselves. Its a very tough and demanding job, you guys are doing in rescue and saving lives in Afghanistan!! The medic’s wounds are serious, and Steve inserts a needle into the bone to pump life saving blood into the American’s body. Chris sees blood pooling in the civilian’s mouth and makes the call to perform a “cric,” a last-resort procedure. The Inside Combat Rescue panelists were largely unaware, but some cadets spoke quietly about the lost pilot, and mulled his story’s warnings, as they filed into the auditorium.
The show’s unflinching look at war imparted an important first-person perspective for these young Airmen… some of whom will deploy to Afghanistan before the year’s end.
I know this was the first time in PJ history that anyone has shown what they actually do, the conditions they work under inside those Pave Hawks. Those PJ’s are top notch, I sure hope Nat Geo finds a way to return and film more from this same base, kudos to showing something worth watching on TV. War is not glamorous or romantic, its cutting open the throat of a man and sticking a breathing tube down his throat…the same man who you fear just may have a bomb strapped to him and kill you and all your buddies.
Matt anxiously awaits the news from his wife, whether his first child will be a son or a daughter.
Finally, I would like to know when NG, will present this outstanding documentary, in the National Geographic Latin American channel, in particular, when is going to be broadcast on Colombian television? In the aftermath of the mission, all three men are left to deal with the mental and emotional consequences of a rescue that hits very close to home. He hovers over the man’s throat with a scalpel, knowing the right move will save him, but missing the mark could prove fatal. I am very appreciative of what you guys have shown and the way you stepped back allowing the PJs to operate. These are citizen soldiers doing the same thing if not more than the PJ’s while in country. Just to get a shot at PJ school they must pass a rigorous stamina test most regular airman, soldiers, marine or seaman would not be able to meet.
They quickly lift off, but can’t leave for the hospital until Lucas takes the remaining casualties on the lead helicopter. Lets bring these most special of our citizens home already so they may enjoy their families. The sneak peek and panel discussion offered a unique way to share the stark realities of the war in Afghanistan with Air Force Academy cadets—future military officers—who want and need to hear about war. Not only do Americans need to see this, President Karzai need to and realize how we save Afghani soldiers and civilians every day, victims of the Taliban. The same goes for the guys back at the base that take over where you leave off, but you are not a PJ’s equal.
The reason you’ve never run into one is because there are only a few hundred of them Air Force wide and they are very hard to find as candidates and very hard to train successfully.



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