MCU: Why The Falcon is my hero — Sam Wilson is a US Special Forces Pararescueman, and a PTSD counselor. Here’s a little about what that means.

Fred Chong Rutherford
4 min readApr 10, 2021
Sam Wilson was a hero long before he ever met Steve Rogers and became an Avenger

When we watch these Marvel films, we can intuit something about what kind of training someone has had via a few lines of dialogue. Like, John Walker, the talk about combat duty in Afghanistan, three medals of honor, there’s all of this stuff an audience can understand quickly about his training and who he is.

But the word ‘Pararescue’ doesn’t conjure that same imagery for most people. Sam Wilson is a retired Pararescueman. One way to describe Pararescue is that they’re a combination of a Navy Seal, with an Army Airborne Ranger, who also has medical training.

USAF Pararescuemen are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) soldiers given the mission to find and give medical treatment to people in humanitarian crisis, and behind the lines in combat. The Pararescue are an elite force, with some of the longest special forces training requirements in the entire world. It takes nearly two years to complete the basic training requirements to become a pararescueman.

  • Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SW Prep), Lackland AFB, Texas (8 weeks)
  • Special Warfare Assessment and Selection (A&S), Lackland AFB, Texas (4 Weeks)
  • Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Georgia (5 weeks)
  • Special Warfare Combat Dive Course, Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center, Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida (5 weeks)
  • Army Military Free Fall Parachutist School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona (4 weeks)
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), Fairchild AFB, (3 weeks)
  • Pararescue EMT-Paramedic Training, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico (37 weeks)
  • Pararescue Apprentice Course, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico (22 weeks)

After you do all of that, you’ve done the basics. You become an apprentice to an existing squad, then go on special missions as needed. The training continues after that as well.