Richard T. Kight, a Brigadier General who lived from 1913 – 2001 penned the code of an air rescueman. He wrote, “It is my duty as an Air Rescueman to save lives and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts. These things I do, that others may live.” This code is the core of the ethics and bravery of the elite Combat Rescue members of the U.S. Air Force, Pararescuemen, or PJs. The PJs have one mission: rescue American or Allied forces in extreme danger. Whether their targets are shot down or isolated behind enemy lines, surrounded, engaged, wounded, or captured by the enemy, PJs will do whatever necessary to bring those in peril home.
Inside Combat Rescue follows the story of the lives of these elite airmen. These courageous men and women put themselves in constant peril, knowing that they may not make it home to the families who are dearest to them. The series brings to light the fragility of humanity and the responsibility we have to help one another in a time of need, but who helps the PJs in their times of need?
When we lose heroes in the line of duty, the tragedy strikes deep; and the thought of the families who have lost loved ones, and especially the children who have lost a parent, is heartbreaking. We all wonder if we can help in some way. In 2002, That Others May Live Foundation was created by individuals who wanted to help provide a college education for every child who had lost a parent during an operational or training Air Force rescue mission. The foundation provides critical support, scholarships, and immediate tragedy assistance for the families of United States Air Force Rescue Heroes who are killed or severely wounded in operational or training missions. To date, That Others May Live Foundation has 23 children on the roll of beneficiaries, has provided college assistance for nine children, given immediate tragedy assistance funds to eleven families of killed or injured Airmen, and continues holding Warfighter appreciation events at Air Force bases with Rescue personnel.
Deputy Executive Director for Operations, Laura Lerdall states, “Rescue personnel are trained to go in and help people on their worst days and that’s what we do too. We try to give back to them in a similar manner.” There are forms of government assistance available to the children who have lost a parent in the line of duty, but That Others May Live Foundation assesses the assistance that is available and being received and fills in the gaps, making it possible for these kids to get the college education their parent would have ensured they received. The Foundation, which is now in its eleventh year, has proven itself successful and more than that, it is very personal work. Most members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee are members of the Rescue family. Looking after the sons and daughters of their fallen brothers and sisters is incredibly important to them.
Currently, one of the beneficiaries of That Others May Live Foundation is at West Point studying, while a sibling is in medical school, and a third sibling is in veterinary school. Another beneficiary is graduating in May from Rutgers with a double major in mathematics and Japanese/East Asian Studies. Lerdall states, “These kids are amazing, pressing on even though they miss their mom or dad every day. Yet, they are a source of strength to all around them.”
To learn more about That Others May Live Foundation, visit them at www.ThatOthersMayLive.org
And don’t miss the finale of Inside Combat Rescue: Coming Home on Monday March 25 at 10 PM et/pt to learn about the U.S. Air Force, Pararescuemen and the amazing individuals on this team of heroes.