Scott O’Grady Profile

  • A former fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force, Captain O'Grady was shot down into enemy territory during the Bosnian War and lived to tell the tale.

  • O'Grady's gripping narrative of his 6 days on the run from Serbian soldiers is a compelling account of bravery, adapting to circumstances, and overcoming adversity.

  • The story of O'Grady's survival and dramatic rescue has been the subject of three books and was the inspiration for the film Behind Enemy Line.
  • After being shot down behind enemy lines, Captain Scott O’Grady was alone and face-to-face with death. The U.S. fighter pilot put his faith and training into action, surviving six excruciating days on the ground in Bosnia in what would become one of America’s most inspirational stories, living on in books, television, and film.

    O’Grady’s boyhood love of flying led him to join the U.S. Air Force. In 1995, he was enforcing the NATO no-fly zone over Bosnia when his F-16 fighter was suddenly hit by a Serb missile. O’Grady narrowly escaped by ejecting his seat as his plane exploded around him. Crash landing into enemy territory, he covered his face in dirt and hid just feet away from the Serbian soldiers who were trying to hunt him down. On the run, O’Grady survived by eating leaves, grass, and ants while trying to contact Magic, NATO’s airborne command center. After six days, he was rescued by U.S. Marines in a dramatic mission that saw the rescue helicopter taking off under enemy fire.

    O’Grady received a hero’s homecoming in the U.S., where his story dominated news outlets for weeks. He continued to actively serve in the military until 2001 and went on to earn a master’s degree in biblical studies. The story of his six day fight to survive in Bosnia is detailed in three different books: Good To Go by Mary Pat Kelly, Basher Five-Two, and Return with Honor, the latter two of which were co-authored by O’Grady. Additionally, his experience was the inspiration for the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines.

    . After 12 years of military service, O’Grady entered inactive reserve status in February 2001. Shortly after, he enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary and graduated with a Master’s Degree in the spring of 2007. Scott also was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service by the University of Portland in Oregon.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      An American Hero

      Captain Scott F. O′Grady was born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved with his family to Long Beach, California in 1970, then to Ridgewood, New Jersey in 1972 and finally to Spokane, Washington, in 1974. He graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1984 and attended the University of Washington for one year before transferring to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. O′Grady earned a Bachelor of Science degree (Aeronautical) in 1989 and was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps program, April 1989.

      Following college, O′Grady attended the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, from November 1989 to December 1990. He was then assigned to F-16 pilot training at Luke Air Force Base until December 1991 when he began his first operational assignment flying the F-16 at the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Korea. In April 1993, O′Grady was reassigned to the 526th Fighter Squadron in Ramstein, Germany, until assuming a position in May 1994 with the 555th Fighter Squadron in Aviano, Italy. In October 1995, he was assigned as an F-16 pilot with the 466th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. In July 1998, he was assigned to a joint survival agency at Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Washington.

      After 12 years of military service, O’Grady entered inactive reserve status in February 2001. Shortly after, he enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary and graduated with a Masters Degree in the spring of 2007. Scott also was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in public service by the University of Portland in Oregon.

      O’Grady was helping enforce the NATO no-fly zone policy in the skies over Bosnia when a Soviet-made anti aircraft missile slammed into his F-16. O’Grady tells his incredible story of how he survived in hostile territory for six days before being rescued by the U.S. Marines in his book, Return With Honor, which spent six weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. He has also published Basher Five-Two, a children’s edition of his original story. His courageous story has also been documented on the Discovery Channel presentation, Behind Enemy Lines. In addition, O′Grady has been featured on CNN’s Voices of the Millennium, a Then and Now, series that focus on the most influential personalities of the 20th Century.

      O′Grady has accumulated more than 1,300 military flying hours including over 1,000 in the F-16.

    Scott O’Grady Speaking Videos

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    Scott O’Grady's Speech Descriptions

    Former U.S. fighter pilot, Scott O’Grady takes you behind enemy lines into the six most dangerous days of his life when he was shot down over Serb-held Bosnia during the 1995 conflict. O’Grady provides a raw first person account of a willingness to fight for your life and support your country, but furthermore, his story offers enlightening and empowering lessons on how to adapt, change, and succeed even under the most daunting and trying of circumstances.

      Return With Honor
      Scott O′Grady speaks about his incredible true-life struggle to survive in the hostile territory of war-torn Bosnia. Scott O′Grady′s story is an inspirational tale of courage, faith and patriotism by an American hero.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Scott Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Scott, first and foremost, I want to thank you for coming to Johnstown, Pennsylvania and speaking to my company’s employee base. You are a true American hero and an inspiration to all. Following your presentation, I received overwhelming positive feedback from over 100 of our employees. With that being said, I want to personally thank you for excepting my offer to return to Johnstown to speak to the Greater Johnstown Chamber of Commerce.”

    Jack Babich
    Ameriserv Bank
    Senior Vice President

    “Scott O’Grady came to speak at PepsiCo’s North America Beverages Headquarters and Global Headquarters for our Veterans Day event. His powerful speech captivated the audience as he talked about his life-changing experience. Scott’s passion and enthusiasm was contagious, and I would highly recommend him as an inspirational speaker.”

    Jim Farrell
    Vice President – Logistics

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    Books by Scott O’Grady:

      Return With Honor

      An account of the author′s ordeal when, as a US Air Force Captain helping to enforce the NATO no-fly zone above Bosnia in June 1995, his aircraft was shot out of the sky by Bosnian Serbs and he had to spend six days and nights in hostile territory, sometimes with his pursuers only five feet away.

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