Inside Combat Rescue: Part Warrior. Part Medic. All Hero.

When a soldier is down and time is running out, an elite unit of Air Force rescue warriors will risk their own lives to rescue those injured and clinging to life. In Afghanistan and around the world, Pararescuemen or PJs; their leaders, Combat Rescue Officers; and their Pave Hawk helicopter teammates fly into the heat of battle, often facing imminent enemy threats, to save the critically wounded. They’re part warrior, part guardian angel, part medic and ALL hero.

Now, for the first time in history, the United States Air Force is allowing cameras to follow these highly-skilled airmen, with advanced medical training, to war. National Geographic Channel joins these guardian angels on the front lines during a four-month deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Inside Combat Rescue, a six-part event premiering Monday, February 18 at 10 p.m., takes viewers inside the harrowing world of the brave airmen who put their lives on the line so, as their motto says, “that others may live.” From heroic acts of bravery in the field to training, pranks and comradery back at base, the series offers a 360-degree view of this band of brothers.

Ready to respond at a moment’s notice, PJs and their rescue teammates race against time to save Americans, coalition forces, Afghan allies and even local Afghan families caught in the crossfire within the “golden hour,” the critical first hour that’s often the difference between life and death.

NGC cameras witness every heart-pounding step of the mission: from the moment real-time intel of the wounded streams into the operations center, and the PJs “scramble” to launch within minutes of the call; as they take on enemy fire and land in areas with heavy insurgent activity; while they rush to stop an amputee from bleeding out during air transport and then download the surgical staff at the nearest hospital; to the debrief back at base.

With strategically placed cameras on airmen’s helmets and more than 40 cameras mounted both inside and outside of the Air Force’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, NGC joins more than two dozen active missions, capturing each heart-pounding, unfiltered moment of war as never before.

See PJs performing advanced medical procedures in the cramped confines of a helicopter flying at full throttle. Watch as pilots, surrounded by gunshots and explosions, fly fast and low to evade Taliban gunners and possible rocket launchers. Feel the pain and raw emotion of an injured soldier holding on to life after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED).

Back at base, brighter moments shed light on the personal side of these soldiers. Water-balloon pranks, Star Wars sheets that bring a reminder of home and a remote-controlled helicopter help these men decompress from the horrors they witness and prepare for the next mission. Heartfelt Skype sessions with family members and care packages from home remind them what they are fighting for.

One airman or PJ, Trevor, on his third deployment, writes in his journal, “I hope in the coming months, we’ll continue to get chances to make a difference. I hope that when someone is out there, on the ground, having the worst day of their life, we can make sure they get the chance to return home safely. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we live for.”

Inside Combat Rescue premieres Monday, February 18 at 10 p.m.


  1. Howie
    February 5, 2013, 2:27 am

    Pararescue is one of the most challenging in the special operations area of the US military. Not only must they be able to run-n-gun just as good as the next guy, but they have to give critical care to a wounded brother. If you can find videos of their training you’ll be amazed what they go through for the honor of saving another.

  2. Inside Combat Rescue – Nat Geo TV Blogs
    February 7, 2013, 4:25 pm

    […] Part Warrior. Part Medic. All Hero. […]

  3. Willys
    February 18, 2013, 11:18 pm

    Thanks for bringing this series. These guys are for their skills and willingness to perform under such adverse conditions.

    Thanks to all of them

  4. derek Beauchemin
    United States
    March 5, 2013, 11:26 am

    Mad Mad respect to these guys and gals. Holy shit the way they handle the “normal” world they are in is beyond comprehension!! Now let’s get them home!!

  5. Larry
    March 9, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Will this series ever be released on DVD?

    Arroyo Grande, California
    March 14, 2013, 3:34 pm

    My son Geoffrey is a Army Combat Medic, I always wondered what it was like doing his job, History channel PJ’s give me a great look into what his world is all about. Thank you and I’m so VERY PROUD of all the Men and Women in the armed forces who give their lives so other may live free and proud! Keep up the GREAT work, stay safe and come home!!

    Marine wife & Army/Navy Mother

  7. Jamie J Huddleston
    United States
    April 3, 2013, 11:55 pm

    The Love of ah “Baby Girl” Solider.
    To keep it in good standing; a few main subjects, Theory of evolution and the study of man, The Melting Pot, The Psychological aspect of our children and Adults, Homeland Security, of which the notice of at least twelve major wars and some; Honor all soldiers that may sometimes seem unspoken of (toward each generation; peer pressure) to memory or the learned experience and even so our young men and women; knowledge it takes to survive, and not to forget the psychological aspect of a perf(f)ect child who should survive but due to hidden or lost aspects of translation and coping of those left to ………. the work becomes harder to the consciousness, as a civilian or soldier material and keeping with educational aspects, has forgetting taken it toll for caring for our selves and then some and of course Homeland Security is not a joke when peer pressure shows it ugly head for the sake of realization of who we are; is there a better way; in doing so without fear who does anybody turn to because if I knew the answer (then guess what) and you think grand sake a life in the sky but the true issue is knowing where to turn for help at the slightest moment. In some cases the treatment of ourselves has been ignored, for some strange reason but with continued resolutions despite; other needs, will it get better. Combat ? is the question

    Thank You in advance for “The Daddy and A Mom’e —-(s’)—- even if figurative; and a home to come

    PS- & God too. & Love

  8. […] this week, here’s this amazing documentary from National Geographic which follows the lives and work of the Pararescuemen or PJs as they perform their duties for the […]

  9. Penny L. Tarini
    United States
    June 26, 2014, 11:42 am

    Home of the free * because of the Brave!!!!
    Forever Grateful!

  10. Janice Kilpatrick
    Monroe, Michigan
    February 1, 2015, 1:34 pm

    I sort of stumbled on Combat Rescue shown on Netflix. I have a grandson in the Navy that flies H-60 helicopters. Got interested and also noticed a PJ from Milan, Mi which is only about 25 miles from me. So I got to watching. This country can be so proud of the sacrifices they are making to help others. That is what we are supposed do but many don’t get the chance. Thank You and you families for everything you are doing “So Others May Live”.