Air Force Pilot, Vietnam POW Becomes Most Decorated Veteran Since MacArthur


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The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) honors and recognizes our Vietnam Era Veterans and their families during our Nation’s commemoration of the anniversary of the Vietnam War.  VA, along with more than 9,000 organizations across the country, joined with the Department of Defense as a commemorative partner to help Americans honor our nation’s Vietnam Veterans.

Today we recognize Medal of Honor recipient, Air Force Col. George E. “Bud” Day Sr. Day served in three wars including WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. To date, he is the only person to receive both the Medal of Honor and Air Force Cross.

USAF Col. George E. "Bud" Day Sr.

Day was shot down by enemy ground fire while flying over North Vietnam.

Day was shot down by enemy ground fire while flying a top-secret mission over North Vietnam and Laos on Aug. 26, 1967. Day shattered his arm in three places and injured his back, knee, and eye when he struck the cockpit during ejection.

He was captured by enemy forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and tortured repeatedly. Day managed to escape after just five days of imprisonment. He successfully evaded enemy patrols by hiding in the dense jungles and surviving on a diet of wild berries and uncooked frogs.

Day made it as far as 25 miles from the camp before being discovered by Viet Cong, who shot him in the hand and thigh before recapturing him. He spent 67 months in captivity and was subsequently released on March 14, 1973 after the U.S. agreed to withdraw from the war.

On October 29, 1974, Day was awarded the Air Force Cross, “for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam.”

Later, on March 6, 1976, President Gerald Ford presented Day with the Medal of Honor. The citation reads, “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.”

Day received more than 70 military decorations during his career, 50 of which were earned during combat. Day is often referred to as being the most decorated U.S. service member since Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Day died July 27, 2013 at the age of 88. He is interred at Barranca’s National Cemetery, section 51, site 30.

Authorized by Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense, and launched by the President in May 2012, the Vietnam War Commemoration recognizes all men and women who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Nine million Americans served during this period, and the Commemoration makes no distinction between Veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during those 20 years. All answered the call of duty. Throughout the year, NCA will participate in honoring Vietnam Veterans, with a special emphasis during the week of March 23 – March 31, 2019.

Author

Steve Ellmore

Steve Ellmore is a Public Affairs Specialist with the National Cemetery Administration, Office of Engagement and Memorial Innovations. He is responsible for providing information on programs, services, and benefits to Veterans, family members, and federal, state and local government officials through various media.

Comments

  1. Martina    

    This is really helpful, thanks.

  2. Gary    

    On 14 March 1973 I was an aeromedic onboard the C-141 as we left Hanoi. I got to know Bud Day, he was a remarkable man and I was honored to be among the POWs. Bud Day taught me the tap code on the way back to Clark. I just can’t say enough good about the man.

    A few years ago when I learned his health was failing I sent his care giver (daughter I believe) an email explaining who I was and that it was my meeting with Bud Day that led me to make a career in the USAF and the ANG. He inspired me to get a degree and ‘go up the ladder’, which I did. She assured me that she had read it to him and it made him smile. He was a true hero and great leader!!

    Gary W. Eckert

  3. Richard D Csldwell    

    Bud Day was the commanding officer of a highly classified group code named Misty. The members of this group were all volunteers because of the dangerous nature of their missions. Day was the commanding officer of my friend Gary Vanriper.

  4. Nick Cusolito    

    Duane Hackney had more decorations. Just sayin’

  5. Zoan    

    Now this is a true hero, not a song bird trying to save his own skin.

Comments are closed.