On This Day: Marines rescue downed pilot in Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 1995

US Air Force Captains T.O. Hanford (L), Scott F. O’Grady (C) and Bob Wright speak at a news conference on June 10, 1995. On June 2, 1995, O’Grady’s F-16 Fighting Falcon was shot down over Bosnia while he was flying in support of Operation Deny Flight. File Photo by Senior Airman Tana R. Hamilton/Department of Defense

On June 8, 1995, U.S. Marines rescued downed American pilot Scott O’Grady in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Braving missile and small-arms fire, U.S. Marines flew a helicopter into hostile Serb territory and rescued an American F-16 fighter pilot shot down six days earlier by rebel Serbs.

Capt. Scott F. O’Grady of Spokane, Wash., was found alive and well near where his plane went down southeast of Bihac in a Bosnian Serb stronghold, AP writes.

Adm. Leighton Smith, commander of NATO forces in southern Europe, said a pilot from O’Grady’s squadron was flying an F-16 over the area around midnight when he heard O’Grady’s voice on the radio.

Smith said the pilot conserved the batteries in his survival radio by using it only sparingly and when he thought he could make contact. A NATO source said O’Grady kept on the move until he got to a location when he could be rescued.

A Serb missile had blown apart O’Grady’s fighter jet on Friday as he flew a NATO mission over northern Bosnia. His fate had been unknown. There were some initial reports the Serb rebels had captured him.

The military mounted a big rescue operation at dawn and two CH-53 helicopters landed 50 yards from where the 29-year-old O’Grady was hiding in the woods. He dashed out of the trees to the nearest helicopters and was hauled aboard by Brig. Gen. Marty Berndt.

“It won’t be very soon that I’ll forget the look on his face as he approached the helicopter this morning,″ said Berndt, speaking via telephone from the Kearsarge, an American carrier in the Adriatic.

He told NBC-TV that O’Grady “was very talkative and in a very good spirit.″

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