Thursday, July 11, 2013

O'Grady's Legacy

Colonel O'Grady died trying to save innocent civilians, he died a hero and deserves to be returned home to his family.

The Mu Gia Pass area was one of the most heavily traveled sections of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that included some of the most heavily defended terrain in Vietnam. The area was dense with rural civilian villages and the bombing took a heavy toll if pilots did not drop their bomb load precisely. 

If the pilots stayed "high and safe," the bombs were less likely to hit military targets that would protect U.S. soldiers in the south and more likely to hit civilian villages. John O'Grady had a reputation for having the courage and nerve to drop in low, opening himself up to enemy fire to ensure his payload hit the military target.

 He would fly low every time enabling him to drop his bombs in a careful and precise manner determined to never endanger or harm the civilian population. He served his country with honor and bravery, choosing to risk his own life rather than expose or inflict injury to innocent villagers.

The day he was lost his wingman saw his bombs land directly on a military target of opportunity - an unexpected battalion of enemy soldiers and equipment moving through the Pass to the south.

The Silver Star or Silver Star Medal is the third highest MILITARY AWARD  for VALOR that can be awarded to any person serving in any capacity with the United States Armed Forces. 

 In less than 4 months in Vietnam, John O'Grady earned:

     *A Silver Star
    *Three Distinguished       Flying Crosses.
    * Two Air Medals with      Valor.
    *A Purple Heart.

On April 10, 1967, Colonel O'Grady left behind a grieving wife and seven children. When the O'Grady Family lost John O'Grady they lost their family,  The stress and uncertainty of not knowing the fate of their father took a great toll on the children.   An absent mother, who did not know how to live and raise seven kids without her husband, just burdened the children's lives further.  The family fell apart and eventually disintegrated.  The void that John O'Grady left behind in the family home was particularly large. "For he had been more than just the centerpiece of this family; he was the linchpin without which the wheels started to come off."  He was the glue that cemented the family together, without his large and heroic presence the family would eventually dissipate. The circumstances that created the deep divisions, ongoing bitterness and grave resentments were the events that followed Colonel O'Grady's disappearance.  A terrible tragedy had occurred but it was exasperated by the family dysfunction that ensued. The uncertainty of O'Grady's fate ignited a firestorm among family members.  The mother was ill equipped to deal with the situation,  she had relied on her husband for everything, he made all the decisions, she had depended on him since she was 16 when her own parents had passed away.

 The result was a family in complete and utter turmoil. It has been over 30 years since the family has united as a unit.  Most  members rarely, if ever, see each other.  The estrangement is complete and seems to be irreparable.

 Family mattered to John O'Grady and it would have made him very disturbed and sad to see what happened to his family.  If he can see the world below, it is certain a tear stain is embossed upon his face. 

Yet, despite the difficult lives and unstable home environment  in the children's lives each forged forward carving out their own mark.  In education and career choices each child has grown to exceed their father's expectations. In Unity each child has failed and disappointed their father greatly. 

 Colonel O'Grady now has 19 grandchildren that sadly were never able to know what an amazing manhe was.  Yet, all his grandkids reflect the courage, strength, discipline and commitment of their grandfather, Col. O'Grady and they each chose a unique manner to demonstrate those character traits and qualities and implement them in various avenues.

Colonel John O'Grady has eleven great-grandchildren

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