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 went missing after being shot down over Vietnam and parachuting into enemy territory. He left behind a wife, grieving parents and seven lost and confused children. When the O’Grady Family lost John O’Grady the family disintegrated into utter turmoil, 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 eventually.descending into complete chaos and dysfunction.
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 among family members was the events that followed Colonel O’Grady’s disappearance. A terrible tragedy had occurred but it was exasperated by ongoing bitterness and grave resentments that stemmed from disagreements about how the family should proceed. . The uncertainty of O’Grady’s fate ignited a firestorm among family members which created a lot of discord. 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 years old, 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 view 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. Yet, despite their individual career achievements each child has failed and disappointed their father greatly. The dysfunctional family unit,caused some siblings to inflict terrible emotional pain upon others just to attempt to gain love, approval and attention from their absent neglectful mother.. Many awful ordeals and vengeful actions ensued among the siblings.
Colonel John O’Grady does leave a legacy with his 19 grandchildren. Even though none of them knew their granddad and how amazing he was, each grandchild today reflects the courage, strength, discipline and commitment of their grandfather, Col. O’Grady. John would have been beaming with pride and amazed at what incredible adults each one became~