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Focus To Escape

Updated on December 29, 2017
Anita Hasch profile image

I live on a homestead in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Writing and reading are my passion.

Scott's Plane Is Hit

Scott was flying his fighter plane close to the plane of his flight leader. They were flying a routine air patrol enforcing a NATO No Fly Zone over Bosnia. Everything was peaceful when suddenly the warning light flashed on, having identified missiles in the air. Two SA-SAMs were racing towards his plane. They tried to avoid the missiles by flying evasively, but one of the missiles hit Scott’s plane. The wings of his plane disintegrated and a fire broke out in the cockpit.

Rescue Mission

Fortunately Air Force Captain Scott did not panic, due to his intensive training and his self control. The heat of the flames was already touching his neck. He pulled the handle of the ejection seat between his legs and seconds later he was floating in the sky. Going down he was filled with dread when he noticed a military truck on the road below. As Scott hit a clearing, he unsnapped the parachute, pulled of his helmet and grabbing his survival gear, ran swiftly into the bush. He covered himself and waited in suspense when he heard the men running past him.

Just off the Balkan coast, Colonel Berndt was addressing the members of the Marine Unit, on the helicopter USS Kearsarge. This Marine Unit was highly trained in combat rescue. Standing in front of a map of Bosnia, he informed them that the rescue might have to be conducted during daylight hours to avoid the power lines in the valley. They would be exposed to the danger of shoulder fired missiles and anti-aircraft guns.


The Soldiers Were Shooting Into The Undergrowth

The soldiers were shooting into the undergrowth near Scott. He realized that they would kill him if he was found. Eventually they moved off. But Scott knew he had to move to a safer place. He had to find an area where a rescue helicopter could land safely. He identified a distant plateau as the best place for a pickup. He could only move during the night, as he might be seen if he tried to travel during the day. The thought that they might come back the following day with tracking dogs spurred him on.

The Marines were on constant alert, but were waiting for confirmation that he had not been captured. At last they had confirmation from a informer that the Bosnian Serb Soldiers had not found Scott.

Scott Was Dehydrated And Thirsty

Scotts’ survival gear contained flares and a GPS receiver. He also had a radio and first aid kit. This would assist him in directing the rescue unit to his exact position. He was thankful for the plastic bags to catch the rain. Scott had finished the last of the water in the pouches. He tried to fall asleep, but first switched on his radio and sent out a coded signal.

Four days after his crash Scott was in a bad way. The worse was his continual thirst. He was dehydrated and knew he could not carry on much longer. He was grateful when it started raining and he caught up the rainwater into a plastic bag. As he drank the water he felt refreshed. It was cold and he was soaked. So he decided to move on so that he could reach the plateau.

When he reached the plateau, he found a safe hiding place and then searched for a place where the rescue helicopter could land. He marked his position on his map after taking a reading from his GPS. It took some time before he could fall asleep. When he awoke darkness was descending on another night. But he had reached his destination and had to wait there until he was rescued. He was hungry and after taking a walk in his surroundings, he crept back into his hiding place. A few hours later he was awoken by the sound of a low-flying jet. He was sure it was the rescue plane. Scott switched on his radio to beeper and turned on the transmit button. He was anxious because he knew that the Bosnian soldiers would also hear the transmission.

The Rescue

Captain Hanford was trying to reach Scott. Eventually he reached him on the rescue channel. When Scott confirmed that it was indeed him, they were both overjoyed. Hanford reported back to base and then confirmed to Scott that he would be picked up soon.

Just before daylight they came flying low to evade radar. Four helicopters flying in trail formation. Two smaller Cobra gunships guarded the flanks and high above them two jets. The valleys were hardly visible because of the fog and would provide protection from detection.

Home At Last

Scott navigated them to his position, and when they were overhead he released a smoke flare. Then a smoke grenade was thrown out of the helicopter to mark his position. Scott pulled on his brightly colored cap so they knew it was him approaching the helicopter. When the radio call came for him to run for the helicopter, Scott was overjoyed. Two of the helicopters had landed, the one filled with marines who formed a security barrier.

As he was pushed into the rescue helicopter a marine held out a blanket which Scott took thankfully, he was cold, tired, dehydrated and hungry, but so thankful to be rescued. They were nearly over the border when the warning flash came on. There were SAMs in the air. The pilots had to maneuver to avoid the missiles. Although one of the rotor blades had been hit, they safely crossed the border.

© 2017 Anita Hasch


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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 3 months ago

      An excellent story about Captain Scott O'Grady's shoot down, evasion, and rescue. Thank you for posting.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 8 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Thank you for your comment. It always amazes me that somebody can survive an air crash.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm glad that Scott was rescued and that the rescue crew escaped as well. He was in a difficult position.