This image shows US Air Force pararescuemen (also known as PJs) from the 83rd Expeditionary Regiment during a mission in Afghanistan on November 7th, 2012. The photograph was taken by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder. They have just been inserted into the area via an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, a highly specialized variant of the Black Hawk.

The squadron is skilled in various combat and rescue methods and is often called upon to perform in difficult and dangerous conditions. They can perform rescues on land or at sea, day or night.

According to the Air Force, PJs are the only elite combat forces “specifically organized, trained, equipped, and postured to conduct full spectrum Personnel Recovery (PR) to include both conventional and unconventional combat rescue operations.”

They are among the most highly decorated servicemembers in the Air Force, awarded one Medal of Honor, 12 Air Force Crosses, and 105 Silver Stars.