National Geographic Premieres INSIDE COMBAT RESCUE Tonight


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. From the network that brought viewers the award-winning documentary Restrepo as well as Inside the Green Berets, the 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 tonight, February 18, 2013, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, 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. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NGC_PR.

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."

Created in the 1940s as a unit dedicated to rescuing downed airmen in combat, today the PJs' role has expanded to include saving both military and civilians in both combat situations and natural disasters. PJs have saved more than 12,000 people since September 11, 2001, including 4,000 during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath; now, they continue to change the landscape of the war in Afghanistan, making sure the wounded come home alive.

Inside Combat Rescue presents an intimate, never-before-seen portrait of the heroic and selfless efforts of a group of men risking their lives to save those fighting for our freedom.

Episodes include:

Inside Combat Rescue: Whatever It Takes

Tonight, February 18, 2013, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

With heartfelt goodbyes, the men of the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., leave their loved ones behind, bound for a war zone half a world away Afghanistan. A 22-year-old rookie is put to the test when a soldier is gravely injured with a gunshot wound to the chest, and clinging to life. Working in the tight confines of a helicopter flying at full throttle, he and the more experienced PJs onboard race to perform a risky procedure to save the soldier, who is struggling to breathe. Back at base, an expecting father on his third deployment awaits word from his wife of the gender of their first child but just as the big news comes in, he gets pulled away on another rescue mission. The team races to save their own after two Americans are critically injured in an IED explosion.

Inside Combat Rescue: Visions of War

Monday, February 25, 2013, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

It's their most dangerous mission yet; the PJs take on enemy fire while rescuing two American soldiers from an active battle zone in the heart of Kandahar City. Surrounded by gunshots and explosions, pilots fly in fast and low to evade Taliban gunners and possible rocket launchers. Once on the ground, rescuers race against time to reach the injured men and evacuate them to the nearest hospital before they bleed out. Helmet cameras and strategically placed cameras inside the helicopter capture each heart-pounding moment of the heroic rescue.

Inside Combat Rescue: Into the Fire

Monday, March 4, 2013, at 10 p.m. ET/PT

They call it the "golden hour," the critical window of time in which PJs strive to complete a rescue and offer the injured their best chance of survival. But chaos and confusion can delay a mission. The PJs can't land in an area littered with enemy mines until a full sweep of the zone confirms that it's safe to land. The setback jeopardizes the life of an Afghan soldier with a severed leg. On another call, frustration mounts when defensive jamming techniques block radio communications, complicating the rescue of several U.S. soldiers seriously injured during a coordinated attack by insurgents on a remote American outpost.

Inside Combat Rescue is produced for National Geographic Channel by National Geographic Television. For National Geographic Television, series producer is Jared McGilliard, supervising producer/editor is John Collin Jr., and executive producers are Ted Duvall and Jerry Decker. For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Richard Wells, vice president of production and development is Charlie Parsons, executive vice president of programming is Michael Cascio and president is Howard T. Owens. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.

National Geographic Channel

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and FOX Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary in January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in over 70 million homes. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.




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