George E. "Bud" Day is the nation's most decorated warrior since General Douglas MacArthur. In a military career spanning 34 years and three wars, Day received 70 decorations, of which more than 50 are for combat, including 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 the University of South Dakota law school, 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. Day amazingly survived a "no-chute" ejection from an F-84 in 1955. In 1967, during the Vietnam War, Day was assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, Tuy Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Phu Cat Air Base where he organized and commanded the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which was the first "Misty Super Forward Air Controller (FAC)" unit, flying the North American F100 Super Sabre. On 26 August 1967, "Misty 01" set out on its mission to support F-105 Thunderchiefs in an air strike against surface-to-air missile sites in North Vietnam. Day's accumulation of over 5,000 flying hours came to an abrupt halt when 37mm anti-aircraft artillery hit his fighter and forced him and Captain Corwin M. "Kipp" Kippenhan to eject over North Vietnam. Kippenhan was rescued but Day was quickly captured by the enemy. 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 to signal friendly aircraft and two weeks of exhaustion and hunger, he was shot and recaptured by the Viet Cong just two miles from freedom. Thus began his brutal 67-month imprisonment that would not end until his release on 14 March 1973. Three days later, Day was reunited with his wife and four children at March Air Force Base, California. After a short recuperative period, Day 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 his honor. On 25 May 2002, his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa renamed their airport Colonel Bud Day Field. That same year, Colonel Day published his expanded autobiography, Duty, Honor, Country, which includes additional details about his military service and captivity, as well as a stirring account of his legal battle on behalf of World War II and Korean War retirees in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The court acknowledged that the U.S. Government had breached its contract to provide retirees and their spouses with lifetime medical care. Day currently operates a thriving law firm in Fort Walton Beach and resides with Doris Merlene Day, his wife of 61 years, in Shalimar, Florida.
On 26 August 1967, "Bud" Day was forced to eject over North Vietnam, where he was captured and severely tortured. Despite his extensive injuries, Day outwitted his guards, escaped, and headed south toward freedom. Day battled the tremendous pain of his injuries, reentered South Vietnam, and was within two miles of rescue when he was shot and recaptured. Down, but not out, Day offered maximum resistance to his senselessly brutal captors and inspirational leadership to his fellow prisoners until his release in March of 1973.