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Day, George Everette “Bud”

 

George Everette Day was born on February 24, 1925, in Sioux City, Iowa, the second child of John Edward Day and Christine Marie Larson Day.

Bud dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Marines in December 1942, serving in the Pacific Theatre.  After discharge in November 1945, he used the G.I. Bill to attend college.

He first received a Bachelor of Science degree and a PhD in Humane Letters from Morningside College. Next, he attended the University of South Dakota, earning a Juris Doctorate and admission to the South Dakota Bar Association in 1949. While attending college he served in the United States Army Reserves.

In May of 1949, Bud married his childhood sweetheart, Doris Merlene Sorensen.

He transferred to the Iowa Air National Guard and, in July 1950 was called to active duty and assignment to Webb Air Force Base, Texas.  He earned his pilot’s wings in September 1952.

By February 1953, Bud was in Japan, flying two Korean War tours in the Republic F-84 Thunderjet with the 559th Strategic Fighter Squadron. Upon promotion to Captain, Bud decided to make the Air Force his career.

From August 1955 to June 1959 he served with the 55th Fighter Bomber Squadron at RAF Wethersfield, England. The F-100 Super Sabre arrived in 1957 and Bud quickly broke in the new fighter and its capabilities.

While in England, Bud and Doris adopted their first son, Steven, from Germany.

From June 1959 to August 1963, Bud commanded the ROTC unit at St. Louis University, served as assistant professor of aerospace science, added a Master of Arts degree in International Law, and flew jets out of Scott Air Force Base.

In 1963, Bud and Doris adopted a second son, George E. Jr.   Bud attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia from August 1963 to January 1964.

Bud then served for two and a half years as an Air Force Advisor to the New York Air National Guard at Niagara Falls Air Force Base, flying fighters once again.

Now a Major, and anticipating retirement, in 1967 Bud volunteered for a tour in Vietnam.  The Days also adopted two more children – twin girls, Sandra and Sonja.

His first assignment in South Vietnam was as an F-100 Assistant Operations Officer at Tuy Hoa Air Base. After 72 missions, in June 1967 he was reassigned to become the first commander of the Misty Super FACs at Phu Cat Air Base.

By August, he had flown 67 missions into North Vietnam. On a mission to eliminate a surface-to-air missile site, the North Vietnamese shot down his plane. During his ejection, he suffered three breaks in his right arm and dislocated his left knee.

He was captured by the North Vietnamese but after a few days he managed to escape, heading south.  Two weeks later Bud was recaptured near Quang Tri City, and spent the next five and a half years in the worst prison camps in North Vietnam.

By the time of his release on March 14, 1973, he had survived 2,028 days as a prisoner of war.

Bud returned to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, to fly fighters, and completed his PhD in political science at Arizona State University.

Bud’s last military assignment was to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in September 1974 where he served as Vice Commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford presented Bud with the Medal of Honor for his personal bravery and leadership while a captive.

He retired from active duty on December 9, 1977, with 6,000-plus flying hours and nearly 70 medals including the Air Force Cross.

Bud returned to practicing law and wrote two books; Return with Honor and Duty, Honor, Country.  He also was an advocate for veterans’ rights.  When the government decided to take away the military retirees medical benefits that they had been promised, he took the matter to court and was instrumental to Congress establishing TRICARE for Life for career military retirees over the age of 65.

Bud Day died on July 27, 2013, and is buried at Barrancas National Cemetery at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.

Col. George “Bud” Day is a 2016 enshrinee of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.