Michael Durant ('95, WW) is an American pilot and author who was held prisoner after a raid in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993. Durant served in the United States Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) as a Chief Warrant Officer 3. He retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 Blackhawk helicopter Master Aviator in the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) after participating in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause, Desert Storm, and Gothic Serpent. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, POW Medal, and numerous others. He and his wife Lisa have six children.
Durant now offers talks about the Somalia raid and the experiences he had in captivity. He personally offered an extensive interview to actor Ron Eldard, who portrayed Durant in the movie Black Hawk Down, which chronicles the events of the raid.
In 2003, Durant published a book titled In the Company of Heroes in which he chronicles his military career and his captivity. In 2006, he co-wrote Night Stalkers with Steven Hartov and Robert L. Johnson in which he recounted several SOAR missions from Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989 to Afghanistan and Iraq today.
Durant's story was recently told in the Fall 2010 issue of LIFT magazine.
Durant holds a BS degree in Professional Aeronautics and an MBA degree in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is now Owner, President and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. a Service Disabled, Veteran Owned Engineering Services company based in Huntsville, Alabama. - Wikipedia
Scott O'Grady ('89, PC) is a former United States Air Force fighter pilot who gained prominence after the June 2, 1995 Mrkonjić Grad incident, in which he ejected over Bosnia when his F-16C was shot down by a Bosnian Serb SA-6 while he was patrolling the no-fly zone. He survived for six days by eating leaves, grass and ants, and avoiding Serb patrols while trying to contact Magic, NATO's airborne command center. He evaded capture and was rescued on June 8, by U.S. Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit based on the USS Kearsarge.
The film Behind Enemy Lines is loosely based on his story. The incident was later depicted on the documentary television program Situation Critical in episode #5 "Downed Pilot", and "Escape! – Escape From Bosnia: The Scott O'Grady Story" on the History Channel. O'Grady authored two books along with Michael French and Jeff Coplon detailing his experiences of being shot down over Bosnia and his eventual rescue — Return with Honor and Basher Five-Two (O'Grady's call sign). You can ready more about his experience in the Fall 2009 issue of LIFT.
Three years after he was rescued, O'Grady left active duty in the U.S. Air Force and joined the Air Force Reserve, where he continued to fly the F-16. In May 2007, he completed a master's degree in biblical studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.
Col. Mark Tillman ('95, WW)
received his Master's degree in Aeronautical Science at the Andrews Air
Force Base Worldwide campus. He retired from the United States Air
Force in February 2009 following a distinguished career which culminated
with his command of the United States Presidential Airlift Group (PAG)
from 2001 until 2009.
As Commander of the PAG, Col. Tillman was
responsible for all aspects of operations for Air Force One – security,
planning, maintenance, parts, facilities, communications, food service,
budgeting, personnel, training, and emergency action planning. Col.
Tillman also served as the Chief Pilot of Air Force One and was at the
controls for over 49 foreign trips to 75 countries.
was in command of Air Force One on September 11th 2001 as the President
was taken out of Florida to several secure locations around the United
States. He was also piloting the plane for all of the President’s
historic, covert trips to the combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. He
was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his successful planning
and execution of the first covert trip on Thanksgiving Day in November
2003. Tillman was recently featured in the Spring 2011 issue
of LIFT magazine.