Farewell to a hero: Col. Bud Day

posted at 10:41 am on July 29, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

An Iowa boy, a veteran of World War II and Vietnam, a combat pilot famous for his defiance in the face of five years of torture in the Hanoi Hilton, a veterans advocate, a political figure in his later years, and an American hero, Air Force Col. George Everett “Bud” Day passed away Saturday in Florida.

His roommate at the Hilton weighed in, calling him “my dear friend and the bravest man I ever knew.”

The citation for Day’s Medal of Honor:

On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

The New York Times catalogs his accomplishments outside military life, which would have been remarkable on their own. He got a bachelor’s and law degree after WWII while serving in the Iowa National Guard. After Vietnam, he was rehabilitated and able to fly again before retiring from the service and becoming a household name (at least for politicos) thanks to his high-profile campaign work for John McCain and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

After coming home from Vietnam, Colonel Day underwent physical rehabilitation, regained his flight status and served as vice commander of a flight wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He retired from the military in 1977 after being passed over for brigadier general and then practiced law in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Colonel Day represented military retirees in a federal court case aimed at securing what they said were health benefits once promised by their recruiters. He campaigned for Mr. McCain when he challenged George W. Bush for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. When President Bush sought re-election in 2004, Colonel Day worked with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization in sharply attacking Mr. Bush’s Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, over his antiwar activities after coming home. Colonel Day backed Mr. McCain’s presidential bid in 2008.

“His wife, Doris, told the Associated Press that her husband ‘would have died in my arms if I could have picked him up.’”

Day himself, as is the way of true heroes, had a rather understated way of talking about his own exploits:

“As awful as it sounds, no one could say we did not do well,” Day told the Associated Press in a 2008 interview. Being a POW “was a major issue in my life and one that I am extremely proud of. I was just living day to day. One bad cold and I would have been dead.”

And, following in Day’s footsteps, there are still heroes who walk among us. One of whom will receive only the fifth Medal of Honor given to a living warrior since the Vietnam War. Let’s be thankful that, with a few of these men, we are able to thank them while they’re still with us:

President Barack Obama will present the nation’s highest award for battlefield gallantry to Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter in a White House ceremony Aug. 26.

Carter, who will become the fifth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, will be recognized for his actions in the Kamdesh district of Afghanistan’s Nuristan province on Oct. 3, 2009, while serving as a cavalry scout with the 4th Infantry Division’s Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

Carter earned the Medal of Honor during a six-hour battle that ensued when enemy fighters attempted to overrun Combat Outpost Keating using heavy small-arms fire and indirect fire. Carter resupplied ammunition to fighting positions throughout the battle, provided first aid to a battle buddy, killed enemy troops and risked his life to save a fellow soldier who was injured and pinned down by overwhelming enemy fire.

Eight soldiers were killed and more than 25 were injured in defense of the outpost.


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Imagine if we could all be the character of Col. Day.?

jake-the-goose on July 29, 2013 at 10:42 AM

May Colonel Day rest in peace.

Liam on July 29, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Colonel Day worked with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization in sharply attacking Mr. Bush’s Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, a (falsely) decorated Vietnam veteran, over his antiwar activities after coming home.

Fixed for accuracy.

Liam on July 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM

God rest your soul Col. Day.

You deserve all that Heaven gives a heroic man like you.

God Bless Col. Days’ family may they find peace and solace also.

Scrumpy on July 29, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Day had compared (John) Kerry to Benedict Arnold, saying they had both gone off to war and “then turned against their country.”

If you know nothing else about the man, know these words.

RIP, dude, you earned it.

Bishop on July 29, 2013 at 10:50 AM

As a young boy the good Col let me fish from his dock. RIP Bud. Your willingness to help others makes you a true hero.

Grunt on July 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Rest easy, Colonel. We’ll try not to let you down.

CurtZHP on July 29, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Godspeed, Sir.

portlandon on July 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM

A great article about the Col:

http://www.americangreatness.org/soldiers-stories/colonel-bud-day/

Words to live by:

Quote: Asked many times what sustained Americans in this environment, Colonel Day answers: “I am, and have been all my life, a loyal American. I have faith in my country, and am secure in the knowledge that my country is a good nation, responsible to the people of the United States and responsible to the world community of nations. I believed in my wife and children and rested secure in the knowledge that they backed both me and my country. I believe in God and that he will guide me and my country in paths of honorable conduct. I believe in the Code of Conduct of the U.S. fighting man. I believe the most important thing in my life was to return from North Vietnam with honor, not just to return. If I could not return with my honor, I did not care to return at all. I believe that in being loyal to my country that my country will be loyal to me. My support of our noble objectives will make the world a better place in which to live.” Unquote…

Scrumpy on July 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Got to say thank-you to a WWII vet on Friday. Actually got chills when I shook his hand–there really aren’t that many of these men left. At some point soon we won’t be able to say thank you in person anymore.

TexasDan on July 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM

I have read several books by men held in Viet Nam as POWs, their faith was amazing and unwavering. I worry about the military’s obvious desire to take God away from our members. Col. Day appears not to have lived a day that wasn’t in service to his country, I am sure God is blessing him and comforting his family and friends.

Cindy Munford on July 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM

RIP, Colonel.

Bitter Clinger on July 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM

RIP Col. Day

sandee on July 29, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Godspeed.

“Throw a nickel on the grass, save a fighter pilot’s ass”

AMF, Col. Day.

Chuckie on July 29, 2013 at 11:02 AM

I know this is dedicated to Col. Day, but lest we forget recent hero’s lost due to the ineptitude of our govt in Benghazi…

God Bless them all and their families…

Semper Fi!!

Col Day was a Marine…

Scrumpy on July 29, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Since I have no idea what it actually feels like to earn a Medal of Honor I may be presumptuous to believe that I would loathe the prospect of having the marxist-in-chief presenting me with one, but I surely would understand the irony of the event.

HiJack on July 29, 2013 at 11:04 AM

God bless you and your family sir. Thank you for your service.

*salute*

ted c on July 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Rest in peace, Colonel.

Ward Cleaver on July 29, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Col Bud Day – Godspeed Sir.

1942 – 1945 (Marine Corps – WW II)
1945 – 1950 (Army – Korea)
1950 – 1977 (Air Force – Viet Nam)

WOW!

He did it all, sorry squids but the good Col was never in the Navy, your loss. I’m sure he may have consider it though. ;-)

D-fusit on July 29, 2013 at 11:21 AM

“As awful as it sounds, no one could say we did not do well,” Day told the Associated Press in a 2008 interview.

 
Godspeed, Colonel.
 

“There’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority,” Mr. Obama said in the interview. “Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret.”
 
- President Barack H. Obama, July 2013

 
Compare/contrast.

rogerb on July 29, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Since I have no idea what it actually feels like to earn a Medal of Honor I may be presumptuous to believe that I would loathe the prospect of having the marxist-in-chief presenting me with one, but I surely would understand the irony of the event.
HiJack on July 29, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Godspeed, Colonel.

Indeed, there are so few left today. Like someone above, I spent an hour talking to a 93 year old veteran of the South Pacific who to this day harbors great animus towards the Japanese. I think he deserves his opinion as he has earned it.

As to having a MOH bestowed by a man whom I am absolutely certain is a traitor and enemy to his nation?

I believe I would refuse the honor.

turfmann on July 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Eternal rest grant unto him,
May perpetual light shine upon him,
May he rest in peace

talking_mouse on July 29, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Colonel Day worked with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization in sharply attacking Mr. Bush’s Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, a (falsely) decorated Vietnam veteran, over his antiwar activities after coming home.

NYTimes

.
Fixed for accuracy.

Liam on July 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM

.
Aw yeah … that works.

You’d think an esteemed publication like the NYTimes could get things right.

listens2glenn on July 29, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Maximum Resistance: George E. “Bud” Day

In Prison, North Vietnam, 1967-1973
George E. “Bud” Day
Major, U.S. Air Force
Misty Forward Air Controller Squadron
*************************************

By Peter Collier

George “Bud” Day was seventeen in late 1942 when he badgered his parents into allowing him to volunteer for the Marine Corps. He spent nearly three years in the South Pacific during World War II, then returned home, went to college, and got a law degree. In 1950, he joined the Air National Guard. When he was called up for active duty a year later, he applied for pilot training and flew fighter jets during the Korean War. After being promoted to captain in 1955, he decided to become a “lifer” in the Air Force.

In 1967, Day, now a major, was put in command of a squadron of F-100s in Vietnam involved in a top-secret program. Nicknamed the Misty Super Facs, their mission was to fly over North Vietnam and Laos as “forward air controllers,” selecting military targets and calling in air strikes on them. On August 26, ground fire hit Day’s plane, destroying its hydraulic controls and forcing it into a steep dive. When he ejected, he smashed against the fuselage and broke his arm in three places. North Vietnamese militiamen below, seeing his parachute open, were waiting for him when he landed. They marched Day to a camouflaged underground shelter. When he refused to answer his captors’ questions, they staged a mock execution, then hung him from a rafter by his feet for several hours. Certain that he was so badly hurt that he wouldn’t try to get away, they tied him up with loosely knotted rope. On his fifth day in the camp, while a pair of distracted teenage soldiers stood guard, he untied himself and escaped.

On his second night on the run, Day was sleeping in thick undergrowth when either a bomb or a rocket landed nearby. The concussion left him bleeding from his ears and sinuses and sent shrapnel into his leg. Even so, he continued to hobble south for the next several days, eating berries and frogs and successfully evading enemy patrols.

Sometime between the twelfth and fifteenth day after his escape — he had lost track of time — Day heard helicopters and stumbled toward the sound. It was U.S. choppers evacuating a Marine unit, but they left just as he got to the landing zone. The next morning, still heading south, he ran into a North Vietnamese Army patrol. As he limped toward the jungle, he was shot in the leg and hand and captured soon afterward. He was taken back to the camp from which he had escaped and subjected to more torture.

A few days later he was moved to the “Hanoi Hilton.”
(More…………)
===================

http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,MoH_George_Day,00.html

canopfor on July 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let the Perpetual Light shine upon him. May he and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Godspeed, Colonel. We shall always be grateful for your service.

PatriotGal2257 on July 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Thank-you for your Service Col. Bud Day,…………R,I.P.!

canopfor on July 29, 2013 at 11:41 AM

A mans man.Semper Fi.

celtic warrior on July 29, 2013 at 11:51 AM

That’s just awesome, thanks for posting. Tissues, please.

scalleywag on July 29, 2013 at 11:56 AM

A bit more info if your interested.

http://witness.lcms.org/pages/wPage.asp?ContentID=1306&IssueID=68

MontanaMmmm on July 29, 2013 at 11:57 AM

/Salute

Rest easy, Sir.

dogsoldier on July 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

This is the type of Man who BUILT this Nation.

RIP

ToddPA on July 29, 2013 at 12:28 PM

According to the President of the United States this man was subject to torture and imprisonment by a regime inspired by Thomas Jefferson…

JR on July 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Col. Bud Day was indeed a man among men and a giant to mice-men.
He was the only POW to not give up any intel.
May he rest in peace.
It’s difficult to believe that there will ever be another like him.
A snappy salute, Sir!
Michael the Archangel is proud to welcome you.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on July 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM

RIP Colonel! If only Juan McCain had half the character you had.

Quartermaster on July 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Col Bud Day – Godspeed Sir.

1942 – 1945 (Marine Corps – WW II)
1945 – 1950 (Army – Korea)
1950 – 1977 (Air Force – Viet Nam)

WOW!

He did it all, sorry squids but the good Col was never in the Navy, your loss. I’m sure he may have consider it though. ;-)

D-fusit on July 29, 2013 at 11:21 AM

He was a Marine, and that is part of the Department of the Navy… close enough!!

“HAND SALUTE!!”

“Ready…. two!!”

Khun Joe on July 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM

According to the President of the United States this man was subject to torture and imprisonment by a regime inspired by Thomas Jefferson…
JR on July 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Pitiful, that BHO!

AH_C on July 29, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Scrumpy on July 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Amen to that, Scrumpy.

RIP, Colonel.

Maddie on July 29, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Another fine soldier called to his final muster!

Well Done, Colonel Day; and Thank You! from a Grateful Nation.

Another Drew on July 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

“This is the type of Man who BUILT this Nation.”

And continues to save it, against all enemies, foreign and domestic!

Another Drew on July 29, 2013 at 1:23 PM

A man, mensch and hero has died.

McCain is still around, making an azz of himself, his family, his country and his party.

His father/grandpa hate him from their graves.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

“After coming home from Vietnam, Colonel Day underwent physical rehabilitation, regained his flight status and served as vice commander of a flight wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He retired from the military in 1977 after being passed over for brigadier general and then practiced law in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.”

..typical NYT. Which is it, clowns, a FLIGHT or WING?

That said, an amazing man to have served in WWII and Viet Nam — and endured so much in the latter conflict. God bless you, Col Day, and RIP.

The War Planner on July 29, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Saw/heard Bud speak at a couple Character and Leadership Development Conferences at USAFA – incredible man.
They don’t make’m like that any more.
Well, there are some – but few and far between these days.
RIP.

dentarthurdent on July 29, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord,
And let Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May his Soul
And the Souls of all the faithful departed
Through the Mercy of God
Rest in Peace.
Amen.

Zorro on July 29, 2013 at 3:01 PM

RIP soldier…..Thank you

crosshugger on July 29, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Every one of those men, with courage and character far beyond mortal imagination, lays a sacred duty squarely at the feet of each one of us. We who live on, we who follow, will be eternally judged by how well we keep the legacy they sacrificed so much to preserve for us.
Their trials are over. Ours is here and now. We owe them nothing less than all we have, and all we ever hope to be.

Lew on July 29, 2013 at 10:34 PM