COLONEL JOHN F. O'GRADY USAF ~ POW/MIA  

357TH TACTICAL FIGHTER SQDN, 355TH  TAC FTR WING, 7TH AF

On April 10, 1967, the NVA 280th Air Defense Unit of the North Vietnamese Army hit Major O'Grady's F-105D with intense ground fire as he flew over the Mu Gia Pass - one of the most heavily defended targets in North Vietnam. 
John O'Grady struggled to maintain control of his aircraft. 

With the plane on fire, he raced toward the border of Laos hoping to increase the likelihood he would be recovered. If he ejected too close to the NVA air defense regiment, there was little hope of escape. 


So he took his chances and rode the crippled aircraft about two miles beyond the target. He stayed with it as long as possible without any hydraulic control before he finally pushed the ejection button.

However, on that long ago day the wind blew his parachute back toward the Pass to certain capture.


As the senior pilot in the air that day stated, "But for the way the wind blew that day, Major O'Grady may not have been left in the mountains of Vietnam..."

     
    
 
In four short months in Vietnam, John O'Grady, a USN Academy graduate, earned the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Star Medals, and a Purple Heart.

              
Patty O'Grady, Ph.D., conducted extensive research into her father's case for more than twenty-six years including interviews and three trips to Vietnam. In 1993, she found Ho Cam and Ho Huan who had captured Major O'Grady outside their village of Ban Ba Loc and carried him down the mountain. They turned him over to two NVA engineers on the red dirt road outside the village of Y Leeng at Route 12, Mile Marker 21 not far from Ban Ha Noong. That was as far as she could trace him...


Last Memorial Day 2012, Patty traveled to the village of Y Leeng again with the Vietnamese soldiers, An and Thiet, who buried her father. Together they prayed at the gravesite. When the Vietnamese government officials arrived at the  gravesite the next day, they threatened to arrest Patty and her Vietnamese friends if they did not leave the area. Patty stayed and witnessed the Vietnamese military remove her father's remains from the grave and transport them to Hanoi after the U.S. team was ordered to stand down. 

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine!
 
  
       America the Beautiful
         Sung By Charles Ray

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