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Air Force Colonel George “Bud” Day

Air Force Colonel George “Bud” Day

Feb 24, 1925 – July 27, 2013

airforce_mohServed in the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing; 55th Fighter Bomber Squadron; 559th Strategic Fighter Squadron; and the USMC 3rd Defense Squadron

On July 27, 2013, Colonel George “Bud” Day, a true American hero, passed away at the age of 88. He was among America’s most highly decorated servicemen, having received nearly 80 medals and awards, more than 50 for combat exploits. In addition to the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for valor, he was awarded the Air Force Cross, the highest combat award specifically for airmen. Colonel Day’s life was defined by the defiance he showed in North Vietnamese prison camps, where his cellmates included Senator John McCain and James B. Stockdale.

On August 26, 1967 he was on a mission to knock out a surface-to-air missile site 20 miles inside North Vietnam, when his F-100 was hit by antiaircraft fire, forcing the crew to eject. In the ejection, Day’s right arm was broken in three places when he struck the side of the cockpit, and he also received eye and back injuries. Day was unable to contact the rescue helicopter by survival radio and was quickly captured by the North Vietnamese local militia. On his fifth night of capture and just 20 miles from the DMZ, Day escaped his captors despite his serious injuries and being stripped of his boots and flight suit. He managed to elude capture for two weeks, but just two miles from a U.S. Marine Corps base, he was spotted by a Viet Cong patrol, who recaptured him after wounding him in the leg and hand by gunfire. He was shuttled among various camps, being beaten, starved and threatened with execution by his captors.

Day endured a brutal, 67-month imprisonment that finally ended on March 14, 1973 when he supplied false information to his interrogators. Three days later, he was reunited with his wife and four children.

“Those who knew Bud after the war could see how tough he was. But, my God, to have known him in prison- confronting our enemies day-in and day-out; never, ever yielding- defying men who had the power of life and death over us; to witness him sing the national anthem in response to having a rifle pointed at his face- well, that was something to behold. Unforgettable. No one had more guts than Bud or greater determination to do his duty and then some- to keep faith with his country and his comrades whatever the cost. Bud was my commanding officer; but more, he was my inspiration- as he was for all the men who were privileged to serve under him.”
– Senator John McCain.

Col. George “Bud” Day was 88 years old from Sioux City, Iowa

Original portrait was presented April 24, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada during a special event hosted by MedAssets.

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