EPISODE 54

SEARCHING FOR THE SOLDIER

SEARCHING FOR THE SOLDIER

In 1966 the US and Australia signed a treaty agreeing to jointly run a satellite tracking station ‘down under’. The base was shrouded in secrecy when David Rosenberg arrived. He was a young NSA signals intelligence analyst and he would spend much of his 23-year career at the Pine Gap base in Australia. One of the many incidents that stood out happened back in 1995 when US Captain Scott O'Grady was shot down while flying over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Monitoring signals is one thing, but when an American pilot is missing behind enemy lines, it's a very different matter. For Rosenberg, it was personal.
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Episode 54: Saving the Soldier

NARRATOR
: Welcome to True Spies. Week by week, mission by mission, you’ll hear the true stories behind the world’s greatest espionage operations. You’ll meet the people who navigate this secret world. What do they know? What are their skills? And what would you do in their position?

This is True Spies Episode 54: Saving the Soldier. This story takes us back to 1995, into the middle of a messy conflict being fought in the former Yugoslavia. We’re heading behind the scenes of an incredible rescue operation.

DAVID ROSENBERG: His fighter was hit with the surface-to-air missile. He would have ejected. He simply is thinking of surviving and he needs to get out of that aircraft. 

NARRATOR: A NATO pilot whose plane was shot in half before it burst into flames and crashed down into hostile territory. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: The forces that shot him down, they would have certainly had a very good idea of where he would have ejected and they would have mobilized very, very quickly to get him on the ground. That's one of your soldiers. They're behind enemy lines. They're in trouble and we're going to do everything we possibly can to get them out.

NARRATOR: And here to tell that story is the True Spy who was instrumental in the effort to rescue the missing soldier. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: My name's David Rosenberg. I worked for the NSA in total for 23 years. I was a signals intelligence analyst there. The career allowed me to be in a job where I was doing the work that I've always dreamed of doing. 

NARRATOR: Even as a kid, David aspired toward this kind of work.

DAVID ROSENBERG: One of my favorite television shows was Mission Impossible and I loved watching how the American agents would go to lengths of eavesdropping on America's perceived enemies at that time. So I did go ahead and call on my childhood dreams - which was working in a way that was, helping my country, helping the military.

NARRATOR: There are many memorable moments from David’s career, but the tale you’re about to hear is so dramatic that it inspired a Hollywood movie…

DAVID ROSENBERG: It's called Behind Enemy Lines, and Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman were the two stars - and it's a very good movie.

NARRATOR: But enough about all-star casts, let’s get to know the place in which this true story unfolds: Pine Gap.

DAVID ROSENBERG: If you talked to the majority of Americans, they would have no idea. A very small percentage would have even heard of Pine Gap. They wouldn't have known the history of it, or what it does, or why it's there.

NARRATOR: That’s both a blessing and curse for those working in the intelligence community, security agencies, the secret services… Often, your work goes unnoticed by the populations you work so hard to keep safe. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: If you think of the spy agency, everyone would think about the CIA.

NARRATOR: The CIA gets all the glamour, but Americans sometimes forget about the other organizations watching their backs.

DAVID ROSENBERG: The NSA was unknown to most Americans but, when I finished university, I had a degree in electrical engineering and I was looking for work in the government and private industry. I came across the NSA and I thought: ‘That looks like a really interesting agency to work for.’ I was working for the NSA for 23 years, 188 of those years were spent at the joint defense facility Pine Gap.

NARRATOR
: And although much of the world has never heard of Pine Gap, Pine Gap certainly knows a lot about the world.

DAVID ROSENBERG: A large part of the world is surveilled by the Pine Gap satellites. The original mission statement of Pine Gap, it would have been to go after signals that were associated with weapons development happening in what was then the Soviet Union. And, since then, the mission has expanded to go outside of Russia, to focus on other countries that manufacture weapons that might be used against the United States, Australia, and our allies, such as China, North Korea, Iran. 

NARRATOR: It's hard to over-emphasize the importance of Pine Gap to the American intelligence community but, in some ways, it's not surprising that Americans haven't heard of it. The facility is based thousands of miles away, deep in the heart of Australia's Northern Territory. That’s right, I said Australia. As in ‘The Land Down Under.’ And the place is a peculiar sight - enormous white structures that look like golf balls rise up from the red earth, and huge warehouse-style buildings house a massive computer complex and hundreds of employees.

DAVID ROSENBERG: It's a satellite ground site and we use satellites to collect electronic signals that are transmitted wirelessly or by radio waves. We have a series of satellites in orbit that we use antennas to point to different parts of the earth and look for signals that are of interest to either the US or the Australian governments. And we're looking for signals that are associated with weapons development and with communication signals. During the Iraq war, we would be looking for signals that were associated with the Iraqi military, where the military would communicate within themselves and within the Iraqi leadership. So any kind of signals that might be able to give the intelligence community information as to what the Iraqis were planning, how their troops were postured, what the morale was like, what the leaders were thinking - we would be going after those kinds of signals.

NARRATOR: And in order to do this kind of detailed monitoring, the place is kitted out with the crème de la crème of surveillance equipment.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Pine Gap is probably one of the most technically advanced facilities on the planet - all the latest gear. It looked like Christmas inside the facility because everything was in different colors. lots of lights blinking, lots of colors on the screens.

NARRATOR: You might be wondering why this state-of-the-art US satellite surveillance base is tucked away in a remote corner of Australia, Well, there are a few reasons. One:

DAVID ROSENBERG: Because it's very isolated, the population is low as well.

NARRATOR: And that's important because...

DAVID ROSENBERG: The satellites transmit their signal down to the ground site, and it's in very narrow, what we call a ‘pencil beam’.

NARRATOR: So if you want to pick up what that satellite is putting down, so to speak, you have to get pretty close to Pine Gap. And if you're getting close to Pine Gap, and you're not a Pine Gap employee, Pine Gap wants to know about it.

DAVID ROSENBERG: So if it's in an isolated place you can pretty much detect and tell if anyone is setting up any kind of facility nearby that might be able to intercept and tap into the beam. You should be able to pick up any kind of device, equipment, or individuals who were involved in any kind of an operation to get access to the satellite’s data. The risk of detection by hostile forces is minimized.

NARRATOR: And reason two:

DAVID ROSENBERG: You also had to pick a place on the earth that has visibility of satellites that are in a geosynchronous geostationary orbit that had access to the entire landmass of the former Soviet Union. And you don't have that kind of geometry in the continental United States. You just can't see a satellite above the equator from the continental US that could look into the entire landmass of the Soviet Union.

NARRATOR: But you can from Australia. Luckily, back in 1966, smack bang in the middle of the Cold War, America had a good friend down under. The two countries joined forces in an intelligence-sharing treaty a and agreed to pool their efforts when it came to gathering intel on the Soviet Union.

DAVID ROSENBERG: They have visibility to the Soviet Union for satellites that are parked above the equator 24-7, so it made a lot of sense.

NARRATOR: But by the time David arrived at Pine Gap, the surveillance interests had long moved on from the USSR.

DAVID ROSENBERG: I was at Pine Gap during the times of the two Iraq Wars, the Balkans conflict, and the hunt for Osama bin Laden after 9/11.

NARRATOR: The geographical focus of the work may have changed at Pine Gap, but the purpose - to identify threats - was the same.

DAVID ROSENBERG: I was a signals intelligence analyst there, and our job was to look for signals that were associated with weapon systems such as radars that are used to guide missiles, surface-to-air missiles, into aircraft - anything that might represent a threat.

NARRATOR: Don't worry, David and his team weren't listening to your phone conversations.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Everything that is done at Pine Gap is done in accordance with the rules. We don't violate civil liberties. We don't go after any kind of communications involving US citizens, Australian citizens. The folks at Pine Gap were very aware of our requirements, [what] our limitations are, and the signals that we can collect. It's just something that we're very highly trained on, and we take our legal requirements very seriously there.

NARRATOR: Plus, they had bigger fish to fry. Take the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, for instance. Time for a little history lesson… Let’s head back to the 1990s where we started our story. The year is 1991 and things are changing in Southeastern Europe. The Yugoslav Republic is disintegrating as areas within the Republic seek independence. In 1992, Bosnia, an area with a majority Muslim population, votes in favor of becoming a sovereign state but the referendum is boycotted by the non-Muslim Serb population. Conflict erupts, and there's a battle for control in Bosnia. The Serb, Croat, and Muslim populations are at war. The world is watching as brutal war crimes are committed against civilians. Bosnian Muslims are being massacred and pressure mounts for NATO to intervene. NATO begins to send pilots as part of Operation No-Fly.

DAVID ROSENBERG: The US military was coordinating overflight of an area there, which included Bosnia and Herzegovina.

NARRATOR: The operation is intended to discourage the Serb military from attacking the Bosnian government from the air, and that's where Pine Gap comes in.

DAVID ROSENBERG: One of the things that we had to do when we realized that the US was going to be involved in offensive operations was to determine what types of weapons they had over there and in that part of the world. So we were looking at databases that had a history of what types of weapons were positioned there. We were also looking for any kind of changes or modifications to existing weapons systems that they had over there, which would have helped the self-protection of aircraft flying over that part of the world.

NARRATOR: David and his team are half the world away from the war zone, but their role here is critical. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: We were looking for any kind of threats to our pilots that were going to be overflying the area.

NARRATOR: In order to do that, Pine Gap signal analyzers are scanning for information that may give them some insight into what's happening on the ground. To do this, they're using all the technology at their disposal.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Probably the most useful tool is a spectrum analyzer. And that's showing you what's happening on a particular frequency. Active radar signals have a distinct appearance on a spectrum analyzer. So we're all trained to know what those look like. It looks like a very tall rectangle. It's a very quick transmission that lasts for maybe two seconds and then it disappears. If we see a radar in the environment that might actually be associated with a surface-to-air missile system, it might be a brand new one. So we want to see what out there has been modified. What's been changed.

NARRATOR: Alerting pilots to those kinds of changes could make the difference between life and death. If a pilot knows where missile-launch sites are located, they know where to avoid.

DAVID ROSENBERG: In almost every case, of course, the pilots would get out and escape those kinds of threats.

NARRATOR: But the team at Pine Gap was well aware that things might not always go to plan.

DAVID ROSENBERG: We were ready for any kind of incident that might happen over there.

NARRATOR
: On June 2nd, 1995, that readiness would be put to the test.

DAVID ROSENBERG: We're at work monitoring what was happening in Bosnia and Herzegovina when we heard that Lieutenant Scott O'Grady was shot down.

NARRATOR: Lieutenant Scott O'Grady: a name that would go down in military history forever. A United States fighter pilot patrolling the skies above Bosnia in an F-16 Fighting Falcon. The aircraft was small, agile, and fast - usually fast enough to dodge the missiles launched from the Serbian forces on the ground. But this time, the Serbian forces waited until the NATO planes were directly overhead before launching their missiles. It was an effective tactic, shrinking the time pilots had to react to the attacks. Instruments in O'Grady's cockpit would have alerted him to the oncoming attack but, on this day, the skies were overcast. It was difficult to see. The warnings were of no use. 

Put yourself in O'Grady's shoes. You're soaring high above the land. Beneath you, the rugged terrain of enemy territory. You can hear a missile getting closer and closer, ripping through the sky toward you, but all you can see is a thick blanket of clouds. Where's it coming from? How can you dodge something that's invisible to you? One, two, three, BANG! No time to think. The missile tears through the body of your plane, smashing the thing in two and sending it hurtling toward the ground in flames.

DAVID ROSENBERG: He needs to get out of that aircraft before he was to lose consciousness from the free-fall effects of the plane.

NARRATOR: Gravity is against you. The plane is being sucked down at an immense speed. Stay in the aircraft and the G-forces exerted on your brain will make it impossible to keep conscious. You'll black out. And then you'll plummet to your death. It's not looking good. You have one option: Eject. Activate your parachute, put gravity back in its place and keep yourself from passing out. You slow the speed of your fall, but you’re still headed toward the ground. Down, down, down you go, into the unknown.

DAVID ROSENBERG: And one of the key things that he would have been worried about is: ‘Where am I going to land? Am I going to land in a hazardous place?’

NARRATOR: Forget the war for a moment. Jumping from a moving plane is never an activity without its hazards.

DAVID ROSENBERG: He could've fallen into a very tall tree - there always is that possibility, if the parachute fails to deploy. He's certainly not going to survive his impact into the ground.

NARRATOR: O’Grady is highly trained. He’s been briefed about this kind of situation, and as he falls he assesses the potential outcomes.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Am I going to land in an open field?

NARRATOR: On the one hand, an open field would be a good thing. Avoiding rocks, cliffs and trees would reduce the risks of death by impact, but then, of course, this is a war zone we’re talking about. Many of the hazards are human. An open field would mean being exposed to the enemy. It would mean becoming vulnerable to capture.

DAVID ROSENBERG: There were all kinds of scenarios that can take place during a pilot’s ejection.

NARRATOR: Luckily, O'Grady wasn't taken out by a tree. His parachute worked and he landed somewhere safe. Well, sort of. He's deep in enemy territory and that’s never a safe place to hang about. O’Grady may have won the war against gravity, but he's just embarked on a war against time. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: The forces that shot him down, they would have certainly had a very good idea of where he would have ejected and they would have mobilized very, very quickly to get him on the ground.

NARRATOR: What would you do to evade capture? It might be a matter of hours before the enemy closes in and you're discovered. If they find you, who knows what they'll do to you, how they might interrogate you? Remember, this is a brutal civil war and it's unlikely that your NATO badge is going to win you any favors on this side of the frontline. Maybe this would be a good time to call for help?

DAVID ROSENBERG: All right. Yeah, the pilots are equipped with an emergency transmitter. It's a device, basically, that is designed to be intercepted by satellites.

NARRATOR: Great, press the button and Pine Gap here to the rescue, right? Think again. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: Your adversaries are typically really well equipped with intercepting those kinds of signals.

NARRATOR: Let Pine Gap know where you are with a distress signal and you risk alerting hostile forces to your whereabouts. So, for now, O'Grady must lie low.

DAVID ROSENBERG: When you're trying to evade the local population, you really need to stay in hiding.

NARRATOR: O'Grady uses mud to cover his face to help blend into the environment. But while trying to evade capture, there's some other critical things to consider. Like, how are you going to survive? You still need to eat. You need to drink. How are you going to sustain yourself?

DAVID ROSENBERG: He was finding it difficult to find food and he eventually was able to survive, he says, by eating ants.

NARRATOR: Delicious, crunchy, sour ants, served on a bed of leaves, grass, and other insects. To drink? Rainwater and dew, collected with a sponge. Doesn't sound like it would make the menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant, but it'll have to do. Downed pilots can't be picky. Things are looking bleak for O'Grady. He's alone in the forest, the enemy is on their way to get him and he's chowing down on leaf litter and insects to stay alive. But while there's no one there with him on the ground, there are hundreds of people around the world who have his back, doing everything they can to help him get out of there.

When a pilot gets shot down the intelligence community mobilizes, and I'm not just talking about Pine Gap. I'm talking about any other part of the intelligence community that might be involved in any kind of a search-and-rescue mission for a downed pilot. At facilities like Pine Gap, we were tasked, of course, to look for the distress signal by Captain O'Grady. We mobilized our satellites to look for that particular signal.

NARRATOR: And the signal they're looking for is distinct. It's O'Grady's signature.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Yes. Oh, ‘Basher five-two’. That was his call sign. Various pilots will choose a call sign for themselves. We've seen that in movies with the Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Maverick. These pilots can give themselves nicknames. ‘Basher five-two’, I think, was the name that O’Grady had as his call sign.

NARRATOR: But O'Grady isn't going to just blast this call sign out all over the airwaves, hoping his rescuers are going to pick it up. He's under instruction to transmit on a very specific frequency.

DAVID ROSENBERG: And that's something that your opposing forces wouldn't have information on. They don't know what frequency a shot-down pilot is going to be communicating on, but they could be monitoring a very wide range of suspected or expected frequencies that he would be using.

NARRATOR: At this point, the opposing forces are most likely scouring the airwaves in search of O'Grady's signal. They're slowed down by the fact they don't know the exact frequency O'Grady is using, but it's only a matter of time before they find it.

DAVID ROSENBERG: So, it would have been up to him when he would transmit - whether that's at night or in the daytime, that's up to the person on the ground to make that decision - but he would have chosen a time when he thought it was safe to transmit, and when it would be less likely that the opposing forces would be able to intercept that signal.

NARRATOR: At Pine Gap they have no idea when to expect O'Grady's signal. It could come anytime, or it might never come at all.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Each hour goes by that the pilot is shot down. You're waiting for that signal to transmit. You're waiting and waiting to get some kind of confirmation that he was still alive.

NARRATOR: The air is thick with tension.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Several days went by.

NARRATOR: And all anyone can talk about at Pine Gap is O'Grady.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Yeah, in a sense, we had gotten to know him simply because we were talking about him on a daily basis. We were getting reports and any kind of updates. We were reading about [him] every day. We were talking about him every day. We did feel a personal connection to O'Grady. It wasn't like the signals that we typically see, which are simply electronic signals. He was a person, a human being. He had a name and a face associated with him. When you're looking for a person that really changes the game. It was a very emotional time. When it's a person it's very different, and it becomes personal.

NARRATOR: Hours tick by into days. Nails are bitten. Emotions are frayed.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Was he killed? Was he captured? Did his transmitter fail? We simply didn't know.

NARRATOR: The team at Pine Gap start to wonder whether Grady is still alive…

DAVID ROSENBERG: But we never gave up on Captain O'Grady. We stayed tuned and waited for him to transmit.

NARRATOR: And there's one thing giving them hope.

DAVID ROSENBERG: We thought that he had been evading capture simply because he hadn't been used as propaganda in that interim. So [if] had he been captured, it's likely he would have been advertised, to say how good the capture efforts were against him after he had been shot down. But he wasn't on Serbian television [and there weren’t] any reports about him being captured out there in the news.

NARRATOR
: No sign of O'Grady in the Serbian media probably meant he was still in hiding.

DAVID ROSENBERG: We were hoping that he was actually still okay and that he was just successfully evading capture and waiting for a safe time to transmit. Finally, on day four, we got the signal.

NARRATOR: It's just gone midnight on June 8th and David and the rest of the team on the night shift go wild with excitement.

DAVID ROSENBERG: On the ground of Pine Gap, we are absolutely elated. Some people shed tears, knowing that he's alive, because when you wait four days and you don't know what's going on - and you've been talking about this same person for four days - you finally get the signal, and you are just so relieved and so happy. It can be a very emotional time when you do get that signal.

NARRATOR: But it's not over yet at Pine Gap. They have no idea what the message says.

DAVID ROSENBERG: That signal would have been encrypted.

NARRATOR: Just in case the hostile forces surrounding O'Grady were listening in on the right frequency, O'Grady doesn't want to hand over the coordinates of his whereabouts just like that. He needs to stall for time. He needs to use a code that's going to take a little while for the enemy to crack. So once David gets the signal, it's time to pass it on and get the next step of the rescue mission rolling into action.

DAVID ROSENBERG: We use the procedure that we use when we get a signal like that to send it back to the folks who can interpret the signal.

NARRATOR: The code crackers get to work. And next?

DAVID ROSENBERG: The US military established contact with O'Grady and they communicated with him, found out what his condition was like and where he was located.

NARRATOR: The Serbian code crackers have probably picked up O'Grady's signal by now. They’ll be pouring all their energy into working out what it means. Where is this American pilot? O'Grady is a high-value asset. It's not often you have a NATO pilot on the ground. And if the opposition forces are able to capture him, they can make him the poster boy of their military prowess. O'Grady's face can be beamed onto every TV screen in the region, boosting morale among opposition forces, and calling into question the effectiveness of the NATO intervention. But that’s not the only concern. O'Grady's safety is of paramount importance.

DAVID ROSENBERG: We thought that if he would have been captured by the opposing forces there, that he would have been interrogated. We don't know how they would have treated him.

NARRATOR: And it was also a matter of principle, the 'no soldier left behind' principle.

DAVID ROSENBERG: You never give up on your own troops. It's just something that doesn't happen in the military. It's a priority... not only to the soldier that's missing, but to every other soldier and officer out there. That they know that their lives are the priority. So if they are in trouble, the forces will be going to try to rescue them. It's the fact that it is one of your soldiers. They're behind enemy lines. They're in trouble and we're going to do everything we possibly can to get them out.

NARRATOR: And so, absolutely no expense is spared when it comes to getting O'Grady out of there. The military goes fast and they go hard. At half-four in the morning, local time, the commander of NATO Southern Forces gets in touch with the USS Kearsarge, an enormous US Navy amphibious assault ship docked off the Balkan coast. The commander gives orders to execute an extraordinary rescue mission. Two helicopters carrying 51 Marines take off from the USS Kearsarge. Alongside them, are two helicopter gunships and a pair of Harrier Jump Jets. The mission is supported by a further 16 aircrafts. It's a huge deal and the stakes are high.

DAVID ROSENBERG: When you send in the rescue helicopters, you not only risk losing the person who's been missing but you also risk losing the troops who are on board this helicopter. Those military troops going in and those helicopters, they would have been pretty nervous as well having to fly over hostile territory. So we knew that the whole rescue operation was tenuous.

NARRATOR: The risks were immense, but there was no way they were going to leave O'Grady behind. At 6:30 am, the helicopters move in toward the area where O'Grady's signal has been traced, all the while, watching their backs.

DAVID ROSENBERG: The US military, the Marine helicopters, would have had to fly low and evade the defending force there and they would have had to do what they could to stay safe from any kind of attacks on the helicopters.

NARRATOR: O'Grady knows they're coming for him. He sets off a flare. The bright yellow smoke helps guide the helicopters to the right spot.

DAVID ROSENBERG: Now they were coming under heavy fire but they were able to land.

NARRATOR: The first helicopter touches down and 20 Marines jump from the aircraft and form a protective ring around the aircraft. As the second helicopter lands, a bearded man wielding a pistol is seen running toward the helicopters. It's O'Grady, a little rough, a little wild, but he's alive and he's desperate to get out of there. The door of the helicopter opens and O'Grady is pulled inside to safety before the Marines in the second helicopter have time to step out. The whole thing happens in a flash, but now it's time to get out of there - fast. The fleet of aircraft make their way back to the USS Kearsarge, dodging enemy bullets as they go.

DAVID ROSENBERG: I remember being at work - and we were watching CNN, actually.

NARRATOR: O'Grady's rescue was making live news around the world, and everyone at Pine Gap was following it, wide-eyed and eager to see the fate of the downed pilot they'd all got to know over the last few days.

DAVID ROSENBERG: And we saw Captain O'Grady, who had grown a beard, on a deck of the USS Kearsarge where he was taken being treated to a hero's welcome for hiding out successfully and not being captured.

NARRATOR: David remembers the overwhelming sense of relief at Pine Gap when they saw O’Grady’s face, smiling out at them from the TV screen.

DAVID ROSENBERG: It was a real joy to see him on the Kearsarge with his beard, which they typically don't allow a militant military to grow, but he was under exceptional circumstances. We had so many folks in the military, just having a good chuckle about that. It was simply because he looked so different from the average American soldier. I can tell you that there were a lot of smiles around the room.

NARRATOR: Despite all the odds, O'Grady lived to tell the tale, and what a tale it was.

DAVID ROSENBERG: The fact that he was able to evade capture by those forces is really an amazing story. It typically wouldn’t have happened like that - just an absolutely amazing story.

NARRATOR: Alive, a little thin and, of course, sporting a lot more facial hair than your average soldier, O'Grady took the opportunity to show his gratitude to those who had made his rescue possible. 

DAVID ROSENBERG: Yeah. Oh, the first thing that they did was - when they knew that he was safe and he was okay - they did take him up on deck so that he could address all the folks that were helping in his rescue. And he was very humble, very, very grateful for all of the efforts that were made on his behalf to get him safely out of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

NARRATOR: Of course, O'Grady thanked the Marines who swooped in across bullet-filled skies to save him, but he was also sure to acknowledge those who'd worked tirelessly behind the scenes to save his life. It was a rare moment of public recognition for David and the folks at Pine Gap.

DAVID ROSENBERG: So you just can imagine when you're a part of the intelligence community and you're involved in this kind of a rescue, we're part of the silent community. You didn't really hear about what the folks behind the scenes were doing. But we played our role, just like all of the other parts of the military and the intelligence community did, in order to get O’Grady rescued. So it was just a feeling of elation. And we were just very grateful for what we did. We're very happy to play a role in that.

NARRATOR
: It's now 25 years ago since O'Grady was saved from behind enemy lines, but it remains one of the most memorable scenes of David's career.

DAVID ROSENBERG: The O'Grady story stands out to me the most. It's really fantastic to get involved with these kinds of operations. It's very rewarding, and you get to go to work and go home knowing that you've done your best. And you feel good about the work that you do.

NARRATOR
: I’m Vanessa Kirby. I’ll be back next week for another liaison with True Spies. We all have valuable spy skills, and our experts are here to help you discover yours. Get an authentic assessment of your spy skills, created by a former head of training at British intelligence, now at SPYSCAPE.com.

Guest Bio

Author and former NSA intelligence analyst David Rosenberg was a US high-tech spy working in Australia during a particularly tumultuous time. He served under three American presidents, saw the end of the Cold War and served during two Iraq wars, the Balkans conflict, and the hunt for Osama bin Laden after 9/11. His time also coincided with the ‘War on Terror' and the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear-armed nation.

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