Friday, 18 May 2007
Colonel Bud Day, American Patriot
Contributed by Bill Faith

Many thanks to Rurik for permission to copy his Veteran-American Voices review of an excellent book we were both privileged to receive review copies of. I may or may not manage to put together a review of my own later, knowing that anything I do will suffer greatly by comparison to Rurik's piece.  In the short term, I'm nowhere close to done with my copy, due in no small part to the fact my sister and nephew both recognized it as something they'd enjoy. I have read enough of it to know I heartily agree with Rurik's recommendation to buy a copy at the first opportunity. (I've provided a convenient link for that purpose here.) For now then, Rurik's review:

American Patriot, The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day

Who is Colonel Bud Day? Is he the most decorated living American warrior? Or is he a three-war “lifer”, with service in World War II, Korean War, and Viet Nam? Or is he a three service “lifer”, Marines, Army, and Air Force? Is he the only American to escape from North Vietnamese captivity back to South Viet Nam? Or did he spend five and a half years resisting the Communists while a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton? Is he an aviation hero with numerous flying accomplishments? Yep. Colonel George E. “Bud” Day was all of those and more. He also became a lawyer before he became a fighter pilot, and after retiring from active duty, he began a second career as a practicing lawyer, a career which continues to this day.

Robert Coram has written his biography, American Patriot, the Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day, Hachette Book Group, Little, Brown & Co., New York, 2007. It is a most revealing, and even inspiring look at remarkable man, whom I used to admire, but now revere.

Bud Day’s early years were unpromising, born on the wrong side of the tracks in Sioux City, Iowa. Unpromising but for the fact that he absorbed Midwestern traditional values and an ability to cope with adversity. Dropping out of high school, Bud Day enlisted in the Marines in 1942, though he never got into combat. With time on his hands and initiative, he got in a variety of scrapes, and ended up court-martialed and sentenced to 28 days in the brig. Consequently, Bud Day, future MOH recipient, was denied the Marine Good Conduct Medal. Marriage, college and law school followed, but in early 1950, Bud Day joined the Iowa National Guard. He foresaw a coming conflict with communism, which he detested from an early age, and took a commission in the Army Reserves. In 1951 it became clear that the National Guard would not send him to Korea, so Bud Day transferred his commission to the Air Force and attended flight school. He graduated from his flight training too late for Korea, but was on the path that led to his first career. One of his first accomplishments was finding the solution to the T-33’s proclivity to catching fire on take-off and exploding. The corrective measure when the fire developed was counter-intuitive, and no pilot had survived the experience before Bud Day. Numerous other piloting accomplishments followed in the F-84 Thunderjet and F-84F Thunderstreak, including his ejection without a working parachute. (Read the book to learn the details.) Between these flying adventures, Coram takes us through the career and life developments of an Air Force pilot flying during the Cold War 1950s and 1960s. And Bud Day was becoming one of the USAF’s most proficient tactical pilots.

In 1966, Major Bud Day volunteered for assignment to Viet Nam. After flying a numerous missions over South Viet Nam in the familiar F-100D Super Sabre, in 1967 he was assigned the task of organizing a special top-secret detachment of two-seat F-100Fs which would fly as fast-FAC (forward air control) over southern North Viet Nam using the code name Misty. Their job was to fly directly over enemy positions at tree-top level, looking for targets, armed only with their guns and the smoke rockets they would use to mark the targets for faster and higher-flying attack aircraft. If the mission was not actually suicidal, it came close enough, and this elite unit suffered higher casualties than almost any other unit in Viet Nam. They were also one of the most effective units, and Bud Day devised their operational techniques.

One of the early casualties was Bud, who was shot down on August 26,1967 and captured with several broken bones. Despite being denied medical attention and mistreated, he was able to escape captivity while still with the original capturing unit, and headed south through the jungles. After an epic trek, he managed to come within sight of a Marine base at Con Thien. But at the very last minute. he was recaptured by Viet Cong, shot, and dragged back north.

Now began Bud Day’s greatest epic, five and a half years of torture and resistance, refusing to cooperate with his captors. Now Bud Day’s ability to bear adversity came to the fore. During part of this time he shared a cell with John McCain, and is able to answer authoritatively one of our current controversies. This book, and Bud Day’s word vouch that John McCain did not collaborate with the enemy as some have subsequently charged. And that may be taken in the context that Bud Day did attempt to prosecute certain other POWs whom he did believe to have betrayed their oaths, and that he vigorously disagrees with many of John McCain’s political positions. The story of Bud Day’s captivity is the largest part of the book, and is highly relevant to contemporary controversies.

Bud Day came home in 1973 and after some healing, resumed his service career, learning to fly the F-4 Phantom, despite his near-crippling injuries. In 1976, Gerald Ford awarded Bud Day his Medal of Honor. Sadly, the episode became mired in political controversy, in part because Colonel Day, formerly a life-long Democrat, was already supporting Ronald Reagan. The situation of the POWs was not good, and careers were stymied. Robert Coram does a great service in his description of the problems and controversies confronting the POWs, and how Bud Day chose to respond. And this led to Bud Day’s next career.

After leaving the Air Force in 1977, Colonel Day began a career as a practicing attorney, falling back on his education from many years before. Due to the persistent problems he came to specialize in law relating to veterans and military retirees, and several times had to sue the government he served so faithfully during his first life. This second career is also fascinating, though not quite so much as his wartime deeds, and should again earn him the gratitude of every veteran. It seems as if each time Bud Day thinks his career is completed, something else has arisen. In 2004, at the age of 79, Bud Day recognized John Kerry, as the young naval officer whom he saw spewing anti-American propaganda in a film shown in the Hanoi Hilton. Once more Bud Day had to act, and he joined with the coalition of veterans’ groups, led by the Swift Vets, who opposed Kerry’s candidacy. During this time, he also took issue with the politics of John McCain, even while maintaining their friendship and mutual respect. And though it happened too late for inclusion in Coram’s manuscript, Bud Day’s latest stance occurred when he stepped forward to give public endorsement to the Gathering Of Eagles rally, which took place in Washington on March 17.

Since his first aviation escape, Bud Day has believed that he has been preserved by God for some special task yet to come. As if any of several of his accomplishments might have seemed that special consuming task already. Perhaps Bud Day, like Roland and Arthur, will only go to secluded sleep to awake when he is needed again. Meanwhile, he is an inspiration for the rest of us. Robert Coram has written an excellent book about a triply extraordinary American. Whether you are a patriot, military historian, or simple aviation buff, do not miss this book.


Contributed by Bill Faith on May 18, 2007 at 12:56 AM in Books, George Mellinger, The American Warrior, US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps, Viet Nam | Permalink


Posted by: Del


Another year we've been at War
And a record year, of Heroes killed
Will our hopes for an end to it
Never, ever be fulfilled?

The cost has been tremendous
And surely, they don't tell us all
Worse, loss of life and mind and limb
As our Troops, continue to fall.

Some, deployed several times
More, than we should rightly ask
But, they will go and do their Duty
To carry out, their given task.

Nearly four thousand gave their all
Almost thirty thousand hurt
Who tried to bring some civility
To that far-a-way, ancient, desert.

Many folks are against the War
And there's some who do protest
But one thing most all, agree on
Our Military, is the very best.

Let's not forget families and loved ones
All, who serve our Country, too
Who sacrifice and suffer for us
With Patriotism, proud and true.

Some of them will lose their Heroes
And will hurt and cry and grieve
And when handed that folded Flag
They will say, "I still believe!"

Maybe, "Mission accomplished!"
One day, will actually be true
But, till then, we must support them
And tell them, "Thanks, for all you do!"

Del "Abe" Jones

Posted by: Del | Nov 6, 2007 6:04:02 PM

Posted by: Larry Tooker

How can I reach Bud Day?

Thank you.

Larry Tooker
Fairview, TX
214 544 1558

Posted by: Larry Tooker | Nov 26, 2007 4:17:22 PM

Posted by: William Ashley, SGT USAR

Im an Army Reservist but I was previously active duty Air Force and in 1977 I sang in the Air Force Male Chorus at Keesler Air Force Base Directed by Col Starling. I had the great pleasure to honor Col Bud Day with a concert that we performed for his Welcome Home from Vietnam. Im currently serving in the Army Reserves in the 633rd Quarter Master Battalion at the Colonel Outcult Reserve Center in Sharonville Ohio. Im hoping to meet Col Day sometime soon personally and would like to write to him.

Posted by: William Ashley, SGT USAR | Mar 22, 2008 9:37:20 PM

Posted by: Steve Ceh

I would like to contact Bud Day to thank him. I just finished American Patriot and what an honor it would be to thank this man. How do I get a hold of him?
Please email me some info
thanks, Steve

Posted by: Steve Ceh | Jun 19, 2008 5:33:49 PM

Posted by: Robert J. Barouski

My name is Bob Barouski, VP-VFW Program Coordinator of our ARMED & READY Program hosted by the State of Illinois Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and sponsored by Midwest Home Funding, LLC. We are having our next ARMED & READY Seminar scheduled for Sunday, September 7, 2008 at the Judd Kendal VFW POST 3873 in Naperville, Illinois 60540.

I do not know if it would be possible, but we would be highly honored to have Colonel Bud Day attend & participate in this miliraty veterans program. I met Colonel Day when he was being interviewed at the radio station in Lisle, Illinois by Major General Dave Grange for the military weekly radio program.

Mayor George Pradel of Naperville has personally requested the ARMED & READY Program which assists ALL VETERANS with Rights/Benefits/Jobs-Resumes-Placement/Scholarships/Educational Opportunities/Health Care/ & Family Assistance. State of Illinois Senators & Representatives, as well as, representatives of the Govenor/Lt. Governor's Office will be in attendance. Colonel Day's participation will greatly enhance and inspire those veterans who take this opportunity to get answers & assistance to their inquiries.

I would appreciate you checking out our web site at to view both the ARMED & READY Information and the Fundraising Program designed exclusively for the State of Illinois VFW so Colonel Day will have an idea of our intent.

Would you please forward my request to Colonel Day or forward to me his e-mail address-phone-mailing address so I my contact him personally. I was an Infantry Officer in Vietnam 68/69 and I was most impressed by Colonel Day's kind words & uplifting comments when last we met. I look forward to meeting him again and will make the necessary arraingments for transportation and lodging if he chooses to come up to Illinois. Thank you.


Posted by: Robert J. Barouski | Jul 1, 2008 4:10:42 PM

Posted by: Dwaine Douglas

I was a F-100 pilot in the 35th Tac Ftr Wg, Phang Rang Air Base, from May 1967 thru May 1968. I flew 333 combat missions, was awarded three DFC's, 18 Air Medals, and a commendation medal from the Republic of So Vietnam for a mission they especially liked. My OER for that period of time called for my immediate promotion to major ahead of contempories.
Believe it or not, the Air Force claims I was stationed at Homestead AFB, Fl in limbo doing nothing for that period of time that I was actually in Vietnam. To make a long story short, the Air Force thinks I was kicked out of the Air Force as a Captain on 30 Jun 1968 due to performance not worthy of promotion to major while sitting in limbo at Homestead AFB. They are mistaked. I have all the official documents neccessary, including a letter from president Clinton, to prove I was transferred to the Standby Reserve on 13 June 1968, where I remained on extended active duty and on the active Duty list untill 9 May 1973. That gives me 20 yr, 1 mo & 3 days of active duty time but I have never received one penney of retirement pay. Please allow me to send you a e-mail brief of my case. In short ,the Air Force claims my DOS was 30 Jun 68 but they can not produce any prove thereof such as a set of discharge orders. The truth is that my DOS was 9 May 1973, as a major, and there is plenty of proof of that. The Air Force is missing six years worth of my records. I have every last one of them. Maybe you can either help me, if you are still active as an attorney, or maybe pass my case on along to someone who can. My e-mail address is . Thank you Sir.
Sincerely, Dwaine

Posted by: Dwaine Douglas | Dec 16, 2008 6:10:07 PM