For the first time in its history, the United States Air Force has allowed cameras to follow its Pararescuemen (or PJs, as they are known for short), to war. Their actions in combat will be chronicled in the new six-part National Geographic Channel (NGC) series Inside Combat Rescue, premiering Feb. 18 at 10pm ET/PT, and airing Mondays.
Inside Combat Rescue follows the PJs — highly skilled airmen with advanced medical training — along with their leaders, Combat Rescue officers, and their Pave Hawk helicopter teammates, as they fly into the heat of battle during a four-month deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Part warrior, part medic, these men often face imminent enemy threats to save the critically wounded among Americans, coalition forces, Afghan allies and even local Afghan families caught in the crossfire.
NGC says it had 40 cameras over this four-month deployment chronicled in Inside Combat Rescue, joining more than two dozen missions. The cameras captured every step of the mission, from the moment real-time intel of the wounded streams into the operations center and the PJs scramble to launch; to taking on enemy fire and landing in areas with heavy insurgent activity; to air transport and debriefing back at base, and everything in between. The motto of the PJs says, “that others may live,” and Inside Combat Rescue shows how they act quickly during the so-called “golden hour” — the critical first hour that is often the difference between life and death.
Cameras also follow the lives of the PJs back at base to introduce the personal side of the men as they share brighter moments, including playing pranks on each other, and taking part in emotional Skype sessions with loved ones at home.
The first few episodes of Inside Combat Rescue include:
“Visions of War” — Feb. 18 at 10pm ET/PT. It’s their most dangerous mission yet; the PJs take on enemy fire while rescuing two American soldiers from an active battle zone in the heart of Kandahar City. Surrounded by gunshots and explosions, pilots fly in fast and low to evade Taliban gunners and possible rocket launchers. Once on the ground, rescuers race against time to reach the injured men and evacuate them to the nearest hospital before they bleed out.
“Whatever It Takes” — Feb. 25 at 10pm ET/PT. With heartfelt goodbyes, the men of the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., leave their loved ones behind, bound for the war zone in Afghanistan. A 22-year-old rookie is put to the test when a soldier is gravely injured with a gunshot wound to the chest, and clinging to life. Working in the tight confines of a helicopter flying at full throttle, he and the more experienced PJs onboard race to perform a risky procedure to save the soldier. Back at base, an expecting father on his third deployment awaits word from his wife on the gender of their first child. But just as the big news comes in, he gets pulled away on another rescue mission.
“Into the Fire” — March 4 at 10pm ET/PT. The PJs can’t land in an area littered with enemy mines until a full sweep of the zone confirms that it’s safe to land. The setback jeopardizes the life of an Afghan soldier with a severed leg. On another call, frustration mounts when defensive jamming techniques block radio communications, complicating the rescue of several U.S. soldiers seriously injured during a coordinated attack by insurgents on a remote American outpost.
“In the Crossfire” — March 11 at 10pm ET/PT. (No description available.)
March 18 & 25 episode titles and descriptions TBA.
Inside Combat Rescue airs Mondays at 10pm ET/PT on NGC starting Feb. 18.
Photo credit NGT