George E. "Bud" Day is America's most highly decorated military warrior since General Douglas MacArthur. In a long military career spanning 34 years and three wars, Day received nearly 70 decorations and awards. More than 50 of them were for combat, including our nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. Born in February 1925 in Sioux City, Iowa, Day enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and served 30 months in the South Pacific during World War II. Returning home, he entered law school at the University of South Dakota, passed the bar exam in 1949 and was commissioned in the Iowa Air National Guard the following year. Called to active duty in 1951, he entered pilot training, was assigned as a fighter-bomber pilot in the Republic F-84 Thunderjet and served two tours in the Korean War.
In 1955, Day survived a "no-chute" ejection from an F-84. In April 1967, he entered the Vietnam War when he was assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Tuy Hoa Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Phu Cat Air Base where he organized and commanded the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the first "Misty Super FAC" unit flying the North American F-100 Super Sabre. On 26 August 1967, Day's accumulation of more than 5,000 flying hours came to an abrupt halt when he was shot down over North Vietnam and immediately captured by the North Vietnamese. Despite having a dislocated knee and badly broken arm, he managed to escape captivity and evade the enemy as he traveled across the demilitarized zone back into South Vietnam-earning the distinction of being the only prisoner to escape from North Vietnam.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts at signaling friendly aircraft and two weeks of exhaustion and hunger, he was shot and recaptured by the Viet Cong just two miles from freedom. He suffered a brutal, 67-month imprisonment that finally ended on 14 March 1973. Three days later, Day was reunited with his wife and four children at March Air Force Base, California. After a recuperative period, Day was returned to active flying status. Following his retirement as a colonel in 1977, Day wrote an autobiography, Return with Honor, detailing his suffering during his years of captivity in Vietnam.
On 14 March 1997, the new survival school building at Fairchild Air Force Base was named in Day's honor. On 25 May 2002, Sioux City airport honored Day by renaming their airport Colonel Bud Day Field. As of early 2007, Day maintains a thriving law firm in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, which in February 2001 won a major victory for World War II and Korean War retirees in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The court acknowledged that the US Government had breached its contract to provide retirees and their spouses free lifetime medical care. Day resides with his wife Doris in Shalimar, Florida.
On 8 August 1967, 23 miles west of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam, then-Major Day, in his North American F-100F Super Sabre, directed an attack against an enemy storage area while controlling eight F-105s. Despite heavy ground fire, he directed bombs on target, destroying missiles, vehicles and supplies. One vehicle escaped, which Day pursued and destroyed with a white phosphorous rocket. Returning to the storage area, Day continued to direct the fight as the enemy tried to recover undamaged missiles-just another day for Misty 01.