Scott Francis O'Grady is a former United States Air Force fighter pilot. On June 2, 1995 he was shot down over Bosnia by an SA-6 mobile SAM launcher and forced to eject from his F-16C into hostile territory.
Capt.(Ret.) Scott O'Grady speaking at the Sons of Adam Baptist Church on 22 May, 2014. Photo and Story by Jaimie Brehler
On the evening of 22 May, 2014, Captain (Ret.) Scott O'Grady paid a visit to the
Sons of Adam Baptist Church located in North Asheville, North Carolina. A guest
speaker hosted by the church's Pastor Jim Dykes, in front of a sold out crowd
Scott spoke in depth about his extraordinary experience of having been shot down
while flying some 80 miles Behind Enemy Lines just as the movie of the same
name depicted which had some minor Hollywood discrepancies. He spoke in
detail about the experience of his aircraft being struck by a Russian made SAM
missile while flying 500 mph and approximately five miles above the earth. He.
then ejected while on fire from the explosion of the missile slamming into his
unarmed F16 Fighter Jet. He descended slowly guided to earth as Serbian
Paramilitary Death Squads (this way the Serb government could deny any
response ability for their actions and the genocide they are responsible for)
followed his decent to the ground in vehicles. Desperately he began to take into
account his desperate situation. It was then and there he found a new found
solace with God.
Landing in a small opening inside of a sparsely wooded area he quickly took up a
hide spot on the very edge of the tree line where the branches met the ground.
The rest of the area was void of cover and concealment including the dark forest
floor. From there he watched day and night as Serbian Forces searched for him by
helicopter and on foot patrol which came so close to him he could see their faces.
After exhausting what little food and water he had, suffering from his burns, trench
foot, hypothermia he was unable to make contact with anyone via his TABB-B
radio(which he had to use ever so sparingly)he realized that he needed to leave
his hide and go to higher ground in order for his transmissions to be heard. His
movements were excruciatingly slow and painful taking up to 30 minutes to make
a single movement he labored his way to a nearby hill top where he was able to
retry his radio.
On the fifth day of escaping and evading captivity he finally contacted a former
Wingman of his which he had served with in Korea. After verification of where had
he served in Korea to him he was greeted by sounds of joy and relief that he was
still alive! The Wingman flying with him on the mission which he was shot down on
had reported he had not seen an ejection and had no further radio contact so he
was presumed KIA.
On his sixth and final morning on the run, he suddenly witnessed 2 Cobra
Gunships appear over the ridge from his hilltop hideaway where he observed them
begin to fly in circles around him. They were followed by two US Marine Corps
Sea Stallion helicopters that virtually conducted controlled crash landings as they
reared with cockpits skyward landing on their tails onto the small hilltop clearing.
Fearing that he would be mistaken for an enemy soldier Captain O'Grady donned
an orange hat hoping his rescuers would recognize him as a crazy American
being the only individual insane enough to wear orange in a combat environment.
With conviction that they would see him for who he was, he made a mad dash
toward one of the awaiting helicopters where he dove in just as the copters
jettisoned out of the area they were met with stiff resistance! Shoulder fired
missiles were launched at them as well as a wall of lead from small arms fire
including a Russian made .30 Caliber vehicle mounted machine gun or two.
Rounds struck both Sea Stallions hitting both, including the top ribbing of the
interior of the helicopter above him and the canteen of the Sergeant Major of the
Sixth Fleet Marine Expeditionary Unit which bravely came to rescue him. O'Grady
watched as a young camouflaged faced man picked up one of the rounds that had
landed inside their helicopter bay and put it into one of his pockets. The Cobras
went to work as security from below as they leapt out over the Adriatic Sea where
he managed a glance upwards not to see his rescuers not jumping for joy that
they had rescued him but rather just grinning with the knowledge that "21 had
gone in and 22 had made it out of there alive" as they sped toward an awaiting
hospital ship. Suffering from dehydration he couldn't drink enough water on the
short flight to the ship.
Upon landing he was rushed to the hospital below deck and treated with IV fluids
and round of injections while they brought his body's core temperature back to
normal. They also treated his burns and trench foot there. Afterward being unable
to walk he was taken by wheelchair to his quarters on board the ship where he
was given a choice of three mess facilities to choose a meal from, the Captains
Mess, Senior Enlisted Mess or the Jr. Enlisted Mess. He chose the later and was
rewarded with a meal of crab legs and strawberry ice cream! After eating one of
the best meals in his life he then fell into a deep sleep for a few short hours. He
was then transported back to his home base in Aviano, Italy where he underwent
further treatment(s) and recovery. He continued to serve his country for another
year prior to his retirement after 13 years of dedicated and honorable service to
our nation. Scott attributes his survival while downed in Central Bosnia to a
number of things ranging from his upbringing to his survival training and a pep talk
from CG "Storming" Norman Schwarzkopf of Vietnam and Operations Desert
Storm & Desert Shield on the value of good leadership. Humbly he finds it difficult
to except being called a hero when he truly is just that!
Today, Captain O'Grady lives in Dallas, TX from where he continues to serve his
country and fellow man by speaking about his love of God, Country and his time in
Service (despite the horrors he experienced) throughout nationwide venues both
Military and Civillian.
Speaking to Captain O'Grady after his
lecture he was asked if he had anything to say about his survival. He
stated that listening to former POW's speak on their time trying to survive in
captivity or on the run conducting E & E to hide from the enemy before or during
their captivity was as he says, "definitely key to his own survivability while
he was on the run from Serbian Paramilitary Forces!"