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Combat Search and Rescue
Pararescuemen from the 38th Rescue Squadron, prepare to rescue a downed pilot during a combat search and rescue demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 7, 2013. Moody Airmen will be featured in the National Geographic Channel’s new television series “Inside Combat Rescue.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)
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TV series offers gritty inside look at AF rescue missions

Posted 2/12/2013   Updated 2/13/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Jarrod Grammel
23d Wing Public Affairs

2/12/2013 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- During an episode of "Inside Combat Rescue" that premiered at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 7, viewers saw the chilling sight of pararescuemen loading an amputee into a helicopter.

"Inside Combat Rescue" is a National Geographic series that shows a realistic and gritty look at what goes on during a deployment for Air Force rescue units. The series is scheduled to air on TV for the first time Feb. 18 and continue Mondays at 10 p.m.

"Our biggest goal was to make something that they could look back on and be proud of," said Jared McGilliard, "Inside Combat Rescue" series producer. "I hope it creates conversations about this war. The series shows the consequences and humanities of this war."

One of the Airmen featured in the series was U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Clark, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman. He said that the series looks really good and is happy with how everything is being portrayed.

"It's an honor to be a part of this," he said. "It feels good to know this is going to do good things for our unit, this base and the Air Force as a whole. It's something that's never really been done before."

While capturing the lives of the pararescuemen and their teams, one of the film crew's biggest goals was to stay out of the rescue team's way. McGilliard said the film crew began to integrate with the unit, so there was an expectation of where to be and when.

"It was important to stay out of their way," said McGilliard. "We had to ensure we would never be a detriment to the mission."

The main way the film crew accomplished this was with the use of mounted cameras. With limited space on the helicopters, there was little if any room for a cameraman. The film crew stayed on the main base, filming every moment up to take off and immediately after the helicopter landed.

To ensure they captured everything, even when they couldn't be onboard, the film crew used more than 50 mounted cameras for every mission. They mounted cameras on everything from the outside of the helicopters to the helmets of the pararescuemen, aerial gunners and pilots.

"The mounted cameras made it accessible like never before," said McGilliard. "It's about the guys, as seen through their perspective. It's authentic and hard to watch. If the audience isn't uncomfortable watching it, then it wouldn't be authentic.

"It's character driven," he added. "It's about these guys and their war."

Clark agreed with McGilliard on the use of these mounted cameras. He said the film crews were never in their way, and the mounted cameras give a unique perspective.

"I think the way they set up the cameras in the helicopters and having our helmet cams being able to really show the audience what goes on, hasn't really been done before," said Clark. "It's a really cool perspective, and I think people are going to see stuff they would never get to see otherwise."

This was McGilliards goal, and he said the footage came out even better than expected. He said it was an honor to work on the project and that it was humbling to work with the rescue teams.

"They are an elite unit, and I don't think there is anyone more deserving of being a role model than these guys."

McGilliard and Clark both agreed that the mission and the series were a team effort. Although the focus of the series is on the pararescuemen, Clark said they couldn't do their job without the maintainers, pilots, flight engineers and many other units and people.

As far as the series goes, McGilliard said that it wasn't just National Geographic and the pararescuemen working on it. He said there are a lot of people who should be proud of the series.

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