On the night of March 21, 2011, a U.S. F-15E fight jet crashed in Libya while participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn, the air campaign against Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

The pilot and weapons officer managed to eject but were stranded in enemy territory. Within just a few hours, friendly forces had recovered both.

Behind that seemingly easy operation was a little-known Pentagon agency that specializes in personnel recovery.

Created in 1999, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) is responsible for the return of U.S. troops and government employees stuck in isolated spots or in harm’s way.