Father’s Day was just a couple weeks ago and to show my appreciation to my dad, I made him read a book with me. It’s called Return with Honor and it’s by Captain Scott O’Grady, U.S. Air Force retired. The reason I chose this story in particular is because his and my father’s histories overlap somewhat. They were contemporaries in the Air Force, they both did some time in the 555th fighter squadron, also known as “The Triple Nickel,” which was reconstituted from an F-15 to an F-16 squadron in 1994. But where things get interesting is that they both served in Italy during the same NATO operations over Bosnia in the mid-nineties. On June 2, 1995, O’Grady was flying a patrol in the NATO no-fly zone when an SA-6 soviet-built surface-to-air missile smacked into his F-16, severing the nose completely from the rest of the fuselage. O’Grady was traveling at 350 knots, or a bit over 400 miles per hour, at 27,000 feet when he was hit. Miraculously, O’Grady survived the explosion, ejected, and began a six-day survival odyssey in hostile Bosnian-serb country. Today, I speak with my dad, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Roberts, a former F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, about his view of O’Grady’s experience and how it changed things for the whole Air Force, from what they carry in the ejection seat to the survival training every pilot receives to this day.
Before we get into the meat of the topic, we start off with some regular old father-son plane talk, so either bear with me on that or skip forward to about 18-20 mins.
Music: "Controlled distress" by Biz Baz Studio