MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the movie “Blackhawk Down”, a U.S. assault operation in Somalia goes terribly wrong.
Under fire, special forces jump into action to “rescue and recover the injured and dying, but it’s not just a Hollywood fantasy. It’s real.
“You can actually see the mushroom cloud coming up from a 500 pound bomb,” said Jacob, whose last name cannot be used because of the sensitive nature of his job.
When U.S. troops are cut off and in desperate need of medical help they call the special operations team that no one’s every heard of. It’s name is the Air Force Pararescue Unit.
“These folks are an amazing national treasure,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffrey Magram.
Fearless, rugged and highly trained, Jacob explained why he chose this job. “We do what we do because we enjoy it. And we do what we do because we want to bring people home.”
Said Col. Magram, “Our forces have been simply all over the world.”
On this day, one wing, the 129th, which is stationed in California, is training for deployment.
“This with no extra gear on it is 800 pounds,” explained Jacob.
Inside this cube called a “ramz package” is an inflatable zodiac boat, an engine, fuel and medical gear.
The package gets pushed out of an “M-C-130-P” combat shadow aircraft thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean. Seconds later, pararescue men jump, follow, secure and inflate the boat “in” the water.
The flight crew also practiced aerial re-fueling from the aircraft to an H-H-60-G “Pave Hawk” helicopters. These “Pave Hawks” conduct rescue and recovery ops in hostile environments. An example: when they rescued american soldiers caught in Taliban crossfire.
“We actually took the helicopter and put one wheel on the ground. We were able to grab him and just pull him onto the helicopter cause there was no way to hop out at that point,” Jacob explained.
Closer to home, the missions are extensive.
“The things we do so others may live is our wing motto,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Taft Aujero, the ops commander for the 129th.
From the rim fires in California, to the rebel heart rescue mission where they found a disabled boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and saved the life of an American infant.
“We can rescue you anytime, any place under any circumstances,” said Jacob.
65-percent of the rescue wing are in the reserves. They have day jobs as doctors, software engineers, even teachers, who collectively have saved more than a thousand lives.