Air Force Capt. Scott F. O’Grady, the fighter pilot who survived for six days behind enemy lines after his plane was shot down over Bosnia on June 2, 1995, will be the featured speaker at Pitt-Johnstown’s 38th annual commencement.
The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 1 in the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center.
There are 390 graduates, of whom 360 will receive their diplomas that day, said Robert Knipple, executive director of external relations.
O’Grady was helping to enforce the NATO no-fly zone in an F-16 when his plane was brought down. What followed was a life-or-death ordeal as he faced death, capture and the elements.
During those six days, O’Grady discovered within himself the spirit to go on, relying on the skills learned in preparation for situations like that.
In his talk to the graduates, he will describe the preparation, teamwork and leadership responsible for his survival – qualities also crucial to success in every facet of life – and his dramatic rescue by the Marines.
His story teaches his audiences how to adapt, change and succeed even under the most daunting circumstances.
O’Grady tells his story in “Return with Honor,” which was on The New York Times best-seller list for six weeks.
His story has been documented on the Discovery Channel. He has been featured on CNN’s “Voices of the Millennium” and on that network’s “Then and Now,” a series that focuses on the most influential personalities of the past 25 years.
O’Grady earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics in 1989 from Embry-Riddle Aeron University, Daytona Beach, Fla., and was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps, also in 1989. He received his master’s degree in 2007 from Dallas Theological Seminary.
O’Grady has accumulated more than 1,300 military flying hours, including more than 1,000 in the F-16.