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In the Crossfire Facts

Senior Airman (SrA) Justin looking out from inside the helicopter.  After taking on two difficult missions, Justin, Thomas, and Chris rush out during a storm to save a child caught in the crossfire.

Senior Airman (SrA) Justin looking out from inside the helicopter.  After taking on two difficult missions, Justin, Thomas, and Chris rush out during a storm to save a child caught in the crossfire. (View larger version)

Photograph by NGT

Published
  • Child casualties in Afghanistan rose to 1,756 in 2011, an average of 4.8 casualties per day.

  • Afghan children were involved as carriers – sometimes unknowingly – in at least 11 suicide bombings in 2011.

  • Pararescue jumpers use the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter by Sikorsky, a Black Hawk model refigured for search and rescue.

  • One report states improvised explosive devices (I.E.D.s) were responsible for 135 U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan in 2012- almost 43% of the total U.S. fatalities for that year.

  • At over 11 years in length and counting, the conflict in Afghanistan is second only to Vietnam as America's longest war.

  • After his helicopter was shot down in Paktia Province, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham saved the lives of ten American soldiers while under enemy fire and suffering from a mortal wound. Cunningham was awarded the Air Force Cross, and is the only PJ to have the honor for service in the Afghanistan conflict.

  • Airman First Class Bill Pitsenbarger, arguably the most famous PJ, flew over 250 rescue missions during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for remaining with the surrounded and outnumbered Charlie Company after his helicopter took enemy fire and had to withdrawal. "Pits" gave his life to tend to the wounded while under fire, run ammunition between soldiers, and fight alongside the survivors.

  • Kandahar is the second deadliest province in Afghanistan for coalition forces, with 508 fatalities since 2001. Helmand, adjacent to the west, is the only region to claim more lives.

  • The Role 3 hospital at Kandahar Airfield maintains a 98% patient survival rate, despite admitting thousands of combat causalities a year, many with amputations.

  • In the infamous "Blackhawk Down" battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, PJs descended from their helicopters during the heaviest fighting to treat the Rangers and Special Forces men pinned down by enemy fire.

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