Pararescuemen, also called PJs (a nickname pronounced 'pee jays'), are United Federation of Planets Special Operations Command (UFPSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operatives tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. They are the only members of the UFP specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations in hostile or denied areas as a primary mission. They wear the maroon beret as a symbol of their elite status, and are part of the little-known Federation Special Tactics community.

While reasonably new to the Federation, Pararescue is far from a new concept. As early as 1922 there was a recognized need for trained personnel to go to remote sites to rescue airmen. In that year, Army Medical Corps doctor Colonel Albert E. Truby predicted that "airplane ambulances" would be used to take medical personnel to crashes and to return victims to medical facilities for treatment. However, it was another two decades before technology and need helped to create what would eventually become Air Force Pararescue.

Even so, there were developments in critical technologies. In 1940, two U.S. Forestry Service Smokejumpers, Earl Cooley and Rufus Robinson, showed that parachutists could be placed very accurately onto the ground using the newly-invented 'steerable parachute.' These parachutes and the techniques smokejumpers used with them were completely different from the techniques used by Army airborne units. It was in that year that Dr. (Captain) Leo P. Martin was trained by the U.S. Forestry Service Parachute Training Center in Seeley Lake, Montana as the first 'para-doctor'.

Recognizing the need for a unified organization to perform search and rescue, the Army Air Force formed the Air Rescue Service (ARS). Officially established on May 29, 1946; the ARS was charged with saving the lives of aircrews who were involved in aircraft disasters, accidents, crash landings, ditchings or abandonments occurring away from an air base, and with being world-deployable to support far-flung air operations.

A mission earlier in 1947 was the final impetus for the formal creation of Air Force Pararescue. In May, Dr. (Capt.) Pope B. 'Doc' Holliday parachuted out of an OA-10 Catalina into the Nicaraguan jungle to aid a crewmember who had parachuted from a crippled B-17 Flying Fortress. His actions earned him the Bronze Star and made him another of pararescue's early legends.

Shortly after Pararescue teams were authorized, the 5th Rescue Squadron conducted the first Pararescue and Survival School at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. The core of instructors were experienced officers and enlisted men who were recruited from all branches of service. The commandant of that first school was pilot Lt. Perry C. Emmons, who had been assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. At the close of the war, Emmons and six sergeants flew prisoners of war out of Thailand, earning his group the nickname "Perry and the Pirates", after the popular comic strip Terry and the Pirates. After the war, Emmons completed Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, becoming only the second jump-qualified Air Force pilot.

As Pararescue grew, PJ teams were assigned to every Air Rescue Service squadron to provide global coverage. By 1950, the unification of all the formerly independent Air Rescue Squadrons under the umbrella of the Air Rescue Service was complete.

In 1950, North Korea attacked across the 38th parallel and began the Korean War. This was an opportunity for Air Rescue to put training into practice and to develop theories into policies. One of the key new concepts was rescue of stranded personnel from behind enemy lines. This, along with evacuating critically wounded men from aid stations close to the front, were Air Rescue's primary missions.

Pararescuemen were a normal part of Air Rescue crews for these missions. Their medical and tactical skills made them invaluable for evacuation and rescue missions of this type.

Pararescuemen were often called upon to leave the helicopters that carried them in order to assist the personnel they were sent to rescue. This might call for an extended stay behind enemy lines and overland travel of several miles. The longest of these 'Lone Wolf' missions lasted seventy-two hours.

By the end of the Korean Conflict in 1953, Air Rescue had evacuated over eight thousand critical casualties and rescued nearly a thousand men from behind enemy lines.

The Earth continued to use Pararescue till 2063, when first contact brought most conflict on Earth to a close, and the use of a highly trained specialized rescue unit was considered no longer needed.

In 2368, with the Increase of hostilities around the Federation, the realization that a specialized Search and Rescue team was needed. Pararescue was reborn. After 3 years of training, Capt Jonathan Harmon was promoted to Major, and Commissioned the first Federation Combat Rescue Officer, and assigned to train the first platoon of PJ's. Training was set up, and the first candidates were selected from the best of the Federation Marine Corps. Major Harmon over saw the training of 600 Marines, trying to become PJ's, by the time training was completed, only 40 remained, and upon Graduation, the first Pararescue Platoon was sent into service.