Try out for the DOD's premier rescue squadron


Verified SOF
Apr 24, 2009
The 304th rescue squadron out of Portland, Oregon has some slots available for future PJ's who want to join the DOD's premier and most experienced pararescue team.

If you're interested in trying out and think you have what it takes, PM me and we'll set up a time for you to come up and try out. Please take some time and read the following FAQ regarding the reserve pararescue system and our team specifically before you come up. Especially the part about fitness and the PT test... I can't tell you how embarrassing it'll be if you show up here in anything but monster shape.

1. Who is eligible?

A: Everyone who meets the active duty requirements generally speaking:

2. What is the difference between joining an active duty team and joining a reserve team in terms of initial training?

A: When you join pararescue AD, you are assigned your team after the 2-2.5 years of initial training. The first time you ever see your team will be after you graduate. When you join a reserve PJ team, like Portland, you are assigned to that team before you even go to basic training (or for prior service before you go to Indoc). Before you go to Indoc you will most likely be moved up to Portland and 'spun up' by our operators in order to get ready for selection. In between the pipeline schools you will come back to Portland for the most part and train at the unit full time for your next school... generally you will just be paid to work out all day (pretty sweet!). When you graduate you will still be on orders for a year in order to get your '5 level' (more advanced PJ skills).

3. How are the reserves different than AD after you are a fully qualified PJ?

A: Don't expect one weekend a month! Drill weekends can extend out into the week and there are many skill sets that one must remain current in so as to be mission ready. One week a month or more is more like it, plus TDY's, but it's entirely possible to work a full time second job, which a lot of our operators do as firefighter paramedics/ paramedics/ pa's / smokejumpers / doctors etc...

4. Wouldn't that make AD PJ teams better since they spend more time doing the job?

A: No, because the days we spend training each month are extremely focused and we don't mess around. You would be amazed how many days you can kill rearranging gear and generally doing nothing. That our operators generally work jobs in health care keeps medical skills sharp that might otherwise go unused for periods of time. Also, the average experience in years that our typical PJ has is much higher than in active duty due to our low turnover.

5. Are all your operators non prior service?

A: Very few are NPS, thus it's a privilege to come in off the street and we hold you to a very high standard. Many of our operators are prior rangers, SF, JSOC, air force and army cross trainees, and former active duty PJ's. The experience base is broad and deep.

6. What is the standard?

A: There are several standards. You will be held to the following minimum PT standard: 1.5 mile run/ 10:45, 500m swim/12 minutes, 6 pullups, 45 pushups, 50 situps and 45 flutter kicks. This is just to be able to process your paperwork... if you show up doing this you will be laughed at, smoked, and sent home. I will personally administer your PT test and I will be taking it along side you wearing body armor and boots to show you that we take fitness very seriously here. Chances are I'll beat you if you show up doing anything less than 1.5 miles/ 9:30, 500m swim/9:00, 75 pushups, 80 situps, 14 pullups and 100 flutter kicks. And chances are if I beat you it won't look good. The standard is also intangible... expect to be interviewed by a large portion of the unit, and expect to answer a wide variety of (sometimes) crazy questions. Sometimes multiple interviews are conducted, but usually one suffices. Also, you can expect that the PT test (called the 'PAST' test) will not be the only physical exercise you do that day.

Don't show up cocky, even if you're in bomber shape, because there's nothing like sitting before 20 guys who have an average of 10-20 years time operating and looking like a cocky fuck.

7. I want to kick doors and kill haj, is this the place for me?

A: No. If you want to do that good on you, but this is not the place where that's gonna go down. If you want to be part of one of the best PJ units in the DOD, with a rich heritage of mountain rescue, strong roots in conventional CSAR and a developing medevac role, come to Portland.

8. I just want to save lives, is this the place for me?

A: No. As a PJ you might have to get your slay on in order to protect your patients. You can see what I'm getting at here... don't gravitate towards either extreme when it comes to pararescue. It's about balance.

9. I've heard the Air Force needs PJ's bad right now!

A: Maybe in active duty, but the selection for the reserve pararescue teams is harder than it is for active duty, and as one of the oldest and the largest and most experienced we're certainly not hurting for guys and in no rush to fill the few spots we have left.

10. I want to be a PJ in the reserves/ANG but I don't like Portland... where can I go?

A: San Francisco, Long Island, Tucson, Alaska, Cocoa Beach (Florida) and a special tactics squadron in Kentucky. I can put you in touch with them.