|Retired Col. George “Bud” Day|
Retired Col. George “Bud” Day, a Medal of Honor recipient, passed away July 27 at the age of 88 at his home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Day holds nearly 70 military decorations and awards, of which more than 50 are for combat. Most notable are: the Medal of Honor, the Air Force Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star for Valor with two oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart with three clusters. Colonel Day was presented Vietnam’s highest medal by their president, two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses, and Vietnamese Wings. He also wears 12 Campaign Battle Stars.
|MAJ George E. (“Bud”) Day,
USAF. (U.S. Air Force)
On Aug. 26, 1967, the North Vietnamese captured Maj. George E. “Bud” Day, a downed F-100 Super Sabre pilot who was severely wounded. He was taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and tortured. Days later, Major Day 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.
He was released from the prison camp March 14, 1973. Three days later Day was reunited with his wife and four children at March Air Force Base, Calif. After a short recuperative period, Day was returned to active flying status. He retired from active duty in 1977.
Following his retirement, Day wrote an autobiography, “Return with Honor,” detailing his suffering as a captive in Vietnam. On March 14, 1997, the new Survival School Building at Fairchild AFB, Wash., was named in his honor.
His citation reads:
|March 4, 1976 – President Gerald Ford presents
the Medal of Honor to James B. Stockdale (l)
and George E. “Bud” Day.
“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.”