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Whatever It Takes Facts

Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Matt inside the helicopter, ready to take off.

Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Matt inside the helicopter, ready to take off. (View larger version)

Photograph by NGT

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  • 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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