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These things we do, that others may live
— PJs motto

Pararescuemen are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operatives tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. They are the only members of the DoD specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations in hostile or denied areas as a primary mission. Also known as "PJs" (Para Jumpers), these special operations units are also used to support NASA missions and have been used to recover astronauts after water landings. They are attached to other SOF teams from all branches to conduct other operations as appropriate, and are known to be elite fighters. Of the 22 enlisted Air Force Cross recipients, 12 have been awarded to Pararescuemen. They wear the maroon beret as a symbol of their elite status.

The process of becoming a "PJ" is known informally as "the Pipeline" or "Superman School." Successfully completing it takes about two years of intense physical and mental effort. Of the many who begin the process, only the most determined will graduate; sometimes as few as four to six from a class of nearly 100. From start to finish the drop out rate is 60 to 90 percent from each class.

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