Politics and Public Services
"I had this sense that people all over the world were praying for my well-being," Scott O'Grady, the former Air Force F-16 pilot, says of the six days in June 1995 he spent eluding paramilitaries in Bosnia who were determined to kill him after shooting him down. His dramatic daylight rescue by the U.S. Marine Corps galvanized the country.
"I'd made it to the ground alive, which was miraculous considering I took a direct hit from the missile and the airplane blew up around me and I was on fire." Miracle is also the word used by Marines - seven miracles, in fact, they say. The final and most dramatic one happened when the helicopter carrying O'Grady to safety took fire and a bullet hit the canteen of Sgt. Major Angel Castro, who was sitting directly in front of Scott O'Grady. "I was in the line of fire," O'Grady remembers. "I don't take things for granted in life now."
After completing his Air Force commitment, Scott O'Grady returned to school and recently completed his Master's in Divinity. "My faith in God, the love of my family whom I wanted to see again, and my patriotism were what really carried me through the ordeal," he says.
"A lot of my patriotism was spawned by my understanding of my ancestry and my heritage. The sacrifices of my ancestors have always inspired me. My O'Grady grandparents came from Sligo and my grandmother Rose Briarty was born in County Longford, Ireland. She married William O'Grady, a Brooklyn police officer, and the two of them worked to put their three children through college. My dad and uncle both graduated from the University of Notre Dame and my dad went on to medical school and became a heart surgeon. And that's the American Dream." O'Grady says his mother's father, an Italian immigrant who became the main breadwinner of his family at fourteen, also was able to put himself through medical school and became a pediatric heart surgeon.
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