HE's being called an "American hero" and "Captain Courageous." US Air Force pilot Scott O'Grady was shot down by Serb forces over Bosnia, and for six days eluded capture until he could signal rescuers. After arriving back at his base in Aviano, Italy, Captain O'Grady spoke about what had sustained him in the ordeal. The text follows:
Thank you for all coming out. I just cannot believe the response I'm getting. This is overwhelming. I feel very humbled by this. It is amazing. I don't believe this is happening to me. I want to say hello to my folks back home - my Dad, my Mom, my sister, and then I'm going to make a short statement.
The first thing I want to do is thank God. If it wasn't for God's love for me and my love for God, I would never have gotten through it. He's the one who delivered me here, and I know that in my heart.
I would like to thank my family, my friends, everybody in the United States and in the NATO countries. When I was out there, I knew you were all there behind me. I could hear you. I knew it. I knew that anything that could possibly be done was being done. I had no doubt in my mind about that.
I've got a lot of respect for everybody that serves in a uniform either in the United States or in the NATO countries or allies, and I appreciate everything you did to get me back to be standing here in Aviano.
But at the pointing end of the spear, the people I want to thank are the people who came in there and risked [their lives]. They say they just were doing their jobs, but they came in there, they risked their lives. Those are the people on the USS Kearsarge. The men and women of the Marines who came in there and saved me.
If you want to find some heroes that's where you should look because those are the best in the world, if you want to ask me who the heroes are.
That's all I've got to say. I'm getting pretty emotional right now, so I'm going to cut it off right now. And again thank you and I bless you all. Thank you.