One of the more famous recipients of the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam conflict was Colonel George “Bud” Day. He is a man who defines the word courage with his exemplary leadership while in captivity. The Air Force Cross was actually awarded for his leadership in the Hoa Lo “Hanoi Hilton”. The Medal of Honor was for escaping and evading the enemy…until he was recaptured. He is the most decorated living serviceman with 70 awards. I gained a new respect and appreciation for Col. Day after reading American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day. What sustained him during those years of torture and confinement? The goal to Return with Honor. It’s a notion that’s in short supply these days. The idea of a commitment to something greater than oneself. I was pleased to see Col. Day honored today by the Collings Foundation who will add the F-100 Super Sabre to their list of available aircraft.
On March 29th the Collings Foundation will unveil the F-100F Super Sabre newly painted in honor of Col. Bud Day’s original fighter. With a backdrop of the Foundation’s Wings of Freedom tour, AD-4 Skyraider and Vietnam Memorial aircraft, Col. Day will fly again in “his fighter” for the first time since he was shot down 43 years ago. In a special event he will join an honorary formation fly-over featuring the F-4 Phantom, TA-4 Skyhawk, T-33 Shooting Star and “Huey” helicopter. Other Medal of Honor recipients such as James Flemming, Vietnam Veterans, POWs and VIPs will make remarks commemorating this monumental event
The Super Sabre was the first super sonic jet and was employed in the famous Misty fast forward air controller program. “Bury Us Upside Down” is the riveting desription of the Misty (actually named after the song) FAC’s and their harrowing missions . No word if you can fly the F-100 yet but I expect it might eventually be possible along with the the F-4 Phantom II and, A-4 Skyhawk planes which I mentioned last month.
“No pilot was more skilled or accomplished than Bud Day, particularly in Vietnam, where the unit he led was renowned for its daring and successful missions into enemy airspace to destroy SAM sites and rescue downed comrades. But on his sixty-seventh raid, Day’s F-100F jet was shot down over North Vietnam. He managed to escape from the enemy forces that discovered him, and after and epic three-week ordeal, he made it to South Vietnam. Just a few miles away from safety and freedom, however, he was recaptured and taken to the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where he quickly became one of the leaders of the Americans held there. Those Americans included such extraordinary figures as James Stockdale, Robbie Risner, Orson Swindle and John McCain. And it was Bud Day who helped his fellow soldiers survive in the most horrible conditions imaginable, who never broke under torture, who never let them forget that they were Americans.” (Quoted from Robert Coram’s book American Patriot)
To Colonel Day: We can only echo the words inscribed on the back of the wrist watch you received in 1973: “Our Humble Thanks.”