A message to former USAF Captain Scott O’Grady

6 Mar
Dear former USAF Captain Scott O’Grady,
 
You don’t know me sir, but you should.
 
Because I’m one of the reasons why you are alive today.
 
My part in your dramatised story “Behind Enemy Lines” was completely glossed over, I was painted out of the Hollywood version of your escape to freedom.
 
Here’s the real version.
 
It was a night shift in the OMDC like any other. The WRAF Cpl wasn’t having a nice night, so me being the nice man I was, I told her to go back to the block and get some sleep. So I was in the room on my own, with nothing but late night TV for company.
 
And then I heard it. A telephone ringing next door in Ops Co-ord.
Be grateful that adjoining door remained unlocked. Be grateful the Air Ops officers had seen sense to teach me how to use that STU II fax machine. Be grateful that MOD had seen its way to give me clearance to receive material on it.
 
So I locked the OMDC door and went and answered that phone at 3am. The operator on the other end only had a limited range on his field phone, that’d he’d somehow patched into a secure fax machine. And I was the limit of his range.
 
“Can you pass this through to US channels?” he asked me.
“Sure can, my friend.” I told him. It was done as a favour, from one Air Force brother to another. It didn’t matter that we didn’t serve in the same Air Force. He was in a spot, and I was able to help him. And so he passed that material to me.
 
Those were the images I recognised many years later when I was sitting in that cinema with EJ.
 
Because I was the one who passed those images of the troops between you and safety to the USAF NATO desk Sgt 5 hours later, after I should have knocked off and gone to bed.
 
I helped guide you back to your ride home.
I helped save your life sir.
 
I’m not looking for thanks, or recognition.
 
I just want you to know who I am, and what part I took in your escape to freedom.
 
I am former Senior Aircraftman Daley, Royal Air Force.
And I helped save your life as a favour.
 
You don’t owe me anything in return. Just know I exist.
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