Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hero of the Day

     "That Others May Live," that's the motto of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Parascuemen or Parajumpers (PJs) http://www.pararescue.com/ They are the Special Operation Forces (SOF) foremost experts on Search and Rescue in combat environments. They are part of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) along with Air Force Combat Controllers, Combat Weathermen and well-known units like the Army¹s Special Forces and Rangers, Navy SEALs and EODs, and Marine Corps¹ MARSOC. They also have a "Tier One" component, the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, at the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) alongside other counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units like Delta Force, DEVGRU and The Activity (for lack of the current names). Yet, very few people know of their existence and incredible service.
     The cliché of the SOF operative is a staple in the thriller genre. I for one didn't want to follow that path, but after a few early drafts of my book, I realized my protagonist was going to need a certain set of skills if he was to survive the plot's challenges. After I made my peace with the fact that I had to toughen up my main character, I immediately decided to make him a PJ. The fact that these men are highly trained commandos capable of handling the direst combat situations, and at the same time, have unparalleled paramedic capabilities, fascinated me.
     The power to give or take life away resting in one man is a powerful concept. Eric Caine is a character born out of contrasts; being a Pararescueman fit him like a glove. Also, the Air Force has the highest required minimum score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), due to its highly technical nature. I think this would attack Eric's intellect. Another element that convinced me to use a PJ in my story was the fact that it is a little known SOF, and –as far as I know, –has never gotten its day prominently in fiction. I love having the opportunity to honor these amazing professionals.  
    The media never mentions Air Force commandos, but they're always there; from the Iranian desert in "Operation Eagle Claw" in 1980, all the way to the raid to kill Bin Laden. Air Force Special Tactic Units may lack the celebrity status of their army and navy brothers, but they're part of the spearhead in the War on Terror. Keep on Running!


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