Air Force

August 2, 2013

One of AF most decorated heroes passes away

Maj. George E. “Bud” Day, a downed F-100 Super Sabre pilot, became the only known American to escape into South Vietnam after being captured in the north. Within two miles of freedom, he was re-captured by the Viet Cong. He wouldn’t know freedom again for 5 1/2 years. For his bravery, he received the Medal of Honor.

 
SHALIMAR, Fla. — One of the most decorated Airmen in Air Force history, whose career spanned three wars and four decades, has passed away.

Retired Col. George Everett “Bud” Day, an Air Force pilot, shot down during the Vietnam War and imprisoned in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” along with Sen. John McCain, defiantly resisted the North Vietnamese for more than five years, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. He passed away July 27, in Shalimar, Fla., at age 88.

Day received close to 70 medals and awards, 50 of them combat-related, during a career that began in 1942 when, as a young 17-year-old, enlisted in the Marine Corps. Day would spend three years in the South Pacific during World War II before returning home to get a law degree.

In 1950, Day joined the Air National Guard and was called to active duty a year later, where he would go through pilot training and become a fighter pilot in the Air Force, where he would fly sorties during the Korean War.

But it was during the Vietnam War that Day would make his mark on history. In 1967, Maj. Day commanded Detachment 1, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, an F-110 unit, with the top secret mission to fly over Vietnam and Laos as forward air controllers. On Aug. 26, Day’s plane was hit by ground fire, and as he plummeted to Earth, ejected and smashed against the fuselage, breaking his arm in three places.

George Everett “Bud” Day was a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and command pilot who served during the Vietnam War. He is often cited as being the most decorated U.S. service member since Gen. Douglas MacArthur, having received some seventy decorations, a majority for actions in combat.

Day was initially captured and taken to an underground shelter, where he was threatened with a mock execution after refusing to answer the enemy’s questions. After five days, he escaped. In spite of his serious injuries and missing his boots, he traveled over 25 miles. During his arduous travel, he ate only local fruit and raw frogs, and he was further injured when a bomb went off nearby. After about 10 days, Day made it across the Ben Hai River into South Vietnam and a few days later was about two miles away from the Marine base at Con Thien. Tragically, Viet Cong insurgents discovered Day and shot him in the left thigh and left hand.

He was then moved to the “Hanoi Hilton,” where his wounds were left untreated, he suffered from malnutrition and constantly tortured. Day endured years of agonizing treatment. Many of his injuries did not heal properly, and his weight dropped to about 100 pounds. Still, Day remained defiant. In the spring of 1968, he was taken to the “Zoo,” a punishment camp for “hard resisters.” There, he was beaten so hard his vision became blurred. After Ho Chi Minh died in the fall of 1969, the POWs’ situation improved somewhat, but Day was still singled out for especially harsh treatment.

During one instance in 1971, guards burst in with rifles as some of the prisoners gathered for a forbidden religious service. Day defiantly stared the guards down and began to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” in protest. The other prisoners, including the prison’s top ranking officer, James Stockdale, joined him.

In 1973, after 67 grueling months in captivity, he was released. The damage by the enemy permanently scarred Day’s body, but he tenaciously fought to get well. A year later he was back on flight status, and he qualified as an F-4 pilot. Col Day became vice commander of the 33th Tactical Fighter Wing, and he retired from active service in 1976.

Air Force hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Col. Bud Day, passed away July 27 at the age of 88 at his home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Day earned more than 70 medals for his service as an enlisted Marine in World War II and an Air Force pilot in Korea and Vietnam. Day was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during his five years as a POW in the Vietnam War, refusing to divulge sensitive information to his captors and rallying his fellow captives. His final assignment was the vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in 1977.

On March 4, 1976, President Gerald R. Ford presented Day with the nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, during a White House ceremony. In attendance was one of his fellow prisoners, Adm. Stockdale. Another fellow prisoner, Sen. John McCain, wrote about Day in his memoir, “Col. Day had an indomitable will to survive with his reputation intact, and he strengthened my will to live.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Red Flag offers B-52 crews training that ‘can’t be beat’

U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadon, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., taxis for take off during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 15. T...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle

‘Thunder’ rolls at Fort Irwin

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Airmen assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., look on as an A-10 Thunderbolt II departs from the National Training Center at Fort I...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd

Hill activates their first F-35 fighter squadron

U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd Lt. Col. George R. Watkins addresses the audience and squadron members during the 34th Fighter Squadron activation ceremony July 17 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The 34th FS will be the fir...
 

 

Nellis celebrates successful Vacation Bible School

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The Nellis Chapel has done it again with the 18th and best year of Vacation Bible School ever. This year’s theme of Science, provided by Gospel Light’s Son Sparks Labs, proved to be engaging and fun for all 192 children and volunteers. Discovering the light of God in a...
 
 

The unseen leader

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — Over the years, I’ve seen many leaders come and go. The ones I admired, I took note of the traits I wished I had, as well as the ones I already possessed. It took me a long time to realize some of my personal and professional weaknesses were...
 
 

Donald Rumsfeld visits Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld interacts with a service member during a book signing and meet-and-greet at the Base Exchange, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 16, 2015. Rumsfeld is the youngest and oldest individual ever to sit in the Defense Secretary position,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>