Rescued U.S. pilot cancels press briefing to seek treatment for his sore feet


WASHINGTON -- The nation's newest hero fell victim yesterday to the most mundane of maladies: sore feet.

A week after his rescue and 24 hours after walking into the White House with the president and parading at the Pentagon with the top brass, Air Force Capt. Scott F. O'Grady, who survived six days in hostile territory in Bosnia after his F-16 fighter was shot down, finally said "Ouch."

Captain O'Grady, whose courage under pressure and charm under public gaze have impressed the nation, canceled a Defense Department press briefing to see Air Force doctors about his aching feet.

"Both feet hurt," said Col. John Chapman, director of the Joint Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Training School at Fort Belvoir, Va., an expert on the complications of exposure. "He just doesn't want to walk at all."

Captain O'Grady was ordered to stay off his feet for 24 hours and was sent to the hospital at Andrews Air Force Base. Colonel Chapman added that the 29-year-old pilot's overall health and morale were "excellent."

Foot ailments, caused by prolonged confinement in wet boots, are common after days in the field, the colonel said. Soldiers who spent weeks in water-filled trenches during World War I often developed what became known as "trench foot."

Webster's Dictionary defines it as "a painful condition of the feet, resembling frostbite and marked by inflammation, swelling, mottled discoloration, burning pain, blisters, and in severe cases gangrene due to the combined effect of cold and wet upon the feet."

Air Force officials were anxious to dispel any suggestion that Captain O'Grady was tiring of the attention he was receiving.

"He really wants to tell his story," Colonel Chapman told reporters at the Pentagon. "He is not trying to beg out on you by any means."

Captain O'Grady is slated later this week to visit his hometown of Spokane, Wash., and nearby Fairchild Air Base, where he underwent the survival training that helped him through his ordeal in Bosnia.

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