Pararescue: It's a Fine Madness
by LTC Martin F. Caldwell

" doing this, you have taken on your shoulders the mantle of that most awesome and rewarding responsibility one can ever face, that of saving the lives of others."

With these words, Master Sergeant Chippner extols the mission of Class 66-November at their graduation ceremony. The graduates have earned their honors after having suffered through brutal training in swamps, mountain terrain and rough seas. They also mastered rigorous medical procedures and passed demanding practical exams in the field. Ultimately, they were required to put their lives on the line during parachute jumps. Yes, it was "a fine madness" that kept them going, while many of their fellows washed out. Constantly running, swimming, climbing, jumping, only the dedicated and steel-willed few win the PJ insignia with parachute and wings. Caldwell makes you feel the struggle—physical and mental—of the trainees, as they confront this seemingly impossible course of training.

Pararescue offers a glimpse of the candidates personal problems: Joe Garvey’s battle with his father about his choice of careers, and the anguish of Lee Davis’ mother when she realizes the relentless dangers her son will face in Vietnam. With the war games over, the war would be real, and there would be no second chances. While the book requires editing to correct errors in punctuation, tense, word use, and syntax, and chapters could be more unified through improved transitions, Caldwell offers a meaningful story about saving lives in war—the ordeals and ideals of brave men. It is an account of having "the right stuff" to perform heroic and seemingly impossible feats of endurance, strength, and valor.

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