George "Bud" Day is one of the most decorated U.S. Air Force Colonel's since General Douglas MacArthur. This legendary servicemember retired with almost seventy decorations.
A Young Marine
Bud Day joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 at only 17 years old and initially served on a gun battery on Johnson Island.
After the war, Day went on to earn a law degree and joined the Iowa Air National Guard. He commissioned as an Officer and was called to active duty in 1951.
While on active duty Bud Day completed pilot training and deployed as an F-84 pilot twice during the Korean War.
Major Bud Day, 43 at the time, volunteered to head to Southeast Asia in 1967. He was assigned the command of Detachment 1, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Commando Sabre. The unit call sign, Misty, became legendary and was derived from one of Day's favorite songs.
While flying his 26th Misty Forward Air Control (FAC) mission, Day was shot down and forced to eject. During this explosive process his right arm was broken in several places and he sustained multiple additional injuries.
Local militia captured him once he was on the ground and proceeded to torture and beat him. After five days of this brutal treatment he managed to escape. He had no boots and many injuries but he made it more than 25 miles.
He survived on local fruit and raw frogs as he made his way through the tough terrain. A nearby bomb detonation injured him further, but he still managed to survive.
Day made it to within two miles of the Con Thien Marine base but tragically, he was discovered by the Viet Cong. He didn't go easily but took a bullet wound to the thigh and hand before finally being recaptured.
Day was taken back to the camp he had escaped from. The guards beat him again as punishment for his escape and made him walk several miles to the prison at Vinh. At this horrific place he was tortured and interrogated.
Day was then transferred to the "Hanoi Hilton" where the torture continued for years. His injuries were not allowed to heal properly and he lost around 100 pounds due to starvation. Even then, he refused to reveal any useful information.
As punishment for his defiance, he was taken to the "Zoo", an area for those who were identified as "hard resisters." He was beaten so severely that he sustained permanent vision impairment.
In 1973, Day was finally set free after 67 months of brutal captivity. A year later he was considered medically recovered from his injuries and became an F-4 pilot.
Day moved on to become the vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing for many years before retiring in 1976 as a Colonel.
Colonel Bud Day represents the toughness and resilience that American troops have embodied for over a century.
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