George "Bud" Day

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Colonel George "Bud" Day

Colonel George Everett "Bud" Day, born on 24 February 1925 (age 95), Sioux City, Iowa is a former U.S. Air Force pilot, a veteran of more than 35 years military service, and the only U.S. POW to escape from North Vietnam. He served for almost 3 years in the South Pacific during World War II as a rifleman with the United States Marine Corps, served as an Army reservist and Army guardsman between World War II and the Korean War, and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the USAF in 1950. He flew F-84F Thunderstreaks during the Korean War, and the F-100F Super Sabre during the Vietnam War.

On 26 August 1967, Day was shot down over North Vietnam. "With his eardrums ruptured, his face crusted with blood from beatings, one arm broken and both knees badly injured from the ejection, Bud Day was hung by the feet "like a side of butchered beef for many hours" by his captors after he refused to answer their questions. A week into his captivity he escaped. He then hiked 12 days alone in the jungle back to South Vietnam, eating frogs, nauseous from pain, only to be recaptured.

"With all of his limbs now broken or shot up, he spent the next six years in captivity, undergoing mock executions, hung again repeatedly by his feet, often not permitted to urinate, beaten senseless in scenes "out of the Mongol Hordes" with whips that made his testicles like charred meat. When prison guards burst in on him and other POWs during a clandestine Christian service, Day stared into their muzzles and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."[1] He spent 5 years and 7 months as a POW, for some of that time sharing a cell with John McCain.

Day has been awarded every significant combat decoration available from the US Air Force and is the United States' most highly decorated officer and the most decorated since General Douglas MacArthur. He holds nearly seventy military decorations and awards, of which more than fifty are for combat. These include the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, and the POW Medal.


  1. Kaplan, Robert D. Rereading Vietnam The Atlantic