American Patriot

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.”


13 responses to “American Patriot

  1. virgil xenophon


    The F-100C pictured above (FW-778) just HAS to be part of the original bloc produced for the FIRST operational combat wing of F-100s in the USAF commanded by my cousin Lt Gen Talbott (as an O-6) because the bird he flew when he won the Bendix Air Race in 1955 as the Wing Co was FW-777!

    • I wondered, while writing the post, if you would have longed for something much faster than a Birddog or Skymaster before you began flying Phantoms as PIC. Low and slow over the Karst must have been an adrenaline boost but the mortality rate wasn’t great for fast FAC’s either. The Hun did a lot of close air support in SEA too.

      Did you ever talk about which airplane was the best with your cousin?

  2. virgil xenophon

    PS: It’s not painted in his units color-design/insignia, however, so pic obviously taken long afterward.

  3. virgil xenophon

    Best for what, Wilko? Best as fast FAC or as a fighter qua fighter?

    BTW, we had an F-4 “fast FAC” from the 8th TFW in our squadron in the UK. (“Wolf “FACs–out of 8thTFW “Wolffack”–was TOTALLY an in-house unofficial deal, not even on the USAF Table of Organization -TO) Quite a guy. They were so used to being Lone-Rangers that our guy broke practically every rule we had for flight safety in the Wing after he first arrived, LOL Almost got his Wings yanked.. If you want to read some REALLY GREAT books on both FastFACing & Iron-Hand/Wild-Weseal ops and F4 ops in general I would refer you to a whole series of books written by an ex- Wolf FAC , Lt. Col Mark E. Berent, USAF. Go to Amazon and check out his page.@

    Most are HIGHLY REALISTIC fictionalized epics based on his experiences and those of his fellow compatriots.. YOU MUST READ THEM ALL!! (Besides the operational/technical exactness he TRULY captures the flavor/spirit of the times–it sure transported me back into another place and time–not one wrong note on that score IMHO–dovetails with my experiences insofar as time & place and attitudes are concerned.) CHECK HIM OUT!

    You can read his WOLF FAC bio “A Group Called Wolf” @

    • Head to head. They were both air superiority / attack planes. You know- a discussion like “my plane is better than your plane and my sister can beat up your brother” kind of dialogue. Unless your cousin eventually flew an F-4. Then he might be able to tell you what he liked about each.

  4. virgil xenophon

    Damn, neither link is good–just hit Amazon and his name and you’ll get his list of books. And for his WOLF bio just Google USAF WOLF FACS and you should get A Group Called Wolf to pop up as first heading.

  5. virgil xenophon

    PPS: It really helps to read Berent’s books in sequence by date of publication as certain themes /characters are carried thru..

    • Hanging out with you has expanded my literary horizons. I’ve bought all the VX recommendations so I won’t stop now. All good reads and mostly unknown to the general aviation public.

      BTW: Speaking of re-living experiences. You can sit in the cockpit of an F-4 at both the Grisson AFB museum and also the Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton. I tried the pilot and RIO seats and there’s not a lot of spare room in there. Lots of switchology and analog everything. Looks like fun to fly but a lot of work.
      Probably meant more for young folk but I liked it.

      Not exactly close to Lousiana but it’s worth a look if you’re in Dayton. Robin Olds Scat XXVII is there also with the Red Stars painted on the splitter vane. You could sit inside (the cockpit open to the public) and make J-79 noises to get the hang of it again. Don’t scare the kids.

  6. virgil xenophon


    Oh he flew both. (He was old P-47 WW II pilot) He took the 366th F-4-equipped TFW over to DaNang in ’65 as an O-6, then got his first star before I followed over to his old Wing at DaNang in 67 by which time he had gone to Head, TACC (Tactical Air Control Center) HQ7thAF, Saigon, then on to Taipei as Chief of Staff–the top guy–of the old now long defunct “Taiwan Defense Command” I took “basket leave” (semi-technical AWOL–LOL) for a week in Aug, ’68 to visit him up in Taipei. Even got to meet Chaing-Kai Sheck and the Dragon Lady at an official social function. (Talk about living history! She was a Wellesley Grad who was a Maggi Thatcher before there WAS a Maggie Thatcher as far as a steel-spine goes–and VERRRY smooth–just don’t turn your back on her in a dark alley! LOL. DEFINITELY both the brains and the iron-will of that combo, although Chaing himself–tho well past his prime when I met him, was no fool, either, my main impression was that he was total Chinese patriot but also a true autocrat in the best traditions of the old school–for good AND bad)

    F-100 v F4? Of course since he won the Bendix Air Race with it in 55 he had a soft spot in his heart for it, but the “hungry” was strictly a Day fighter, and it’s range and payload less as well. But the viz out of the cockpit was better in the 100C and, he claimed, just “felt” like a fighter, while the Phantom was like flying a verry fast truck. Tho truth to tell,air-to-air, if you fought the F4 in the vertical (SOP) you could pick your spots with the old hungry as it lacked the zoom power to keep up and would fall out of the sky way before the F4 would top out and then you could follow it down in a hi-speed yo-yo maneuver. If the 100 stayed horizontal and you went vert it was even worse, quicker, for the guy unless he was VERY skillful.

    • Impressive and amazing. One of the great political leaders of a prior generation and you got to meet him. Chiang Kai-shek had his picture over the Forbidden City for years which is a big deal(Now it’s Mao). In fact I have a butane lighter in my desk with the picture that’s over the city.
      I never thought he was much of a fan of the US. He was duplicitous, working the USSR against the USA but was right up there with leaders like FDR, Churchill and (ugh) Stalin. His wife didn’t earn the dubious sobriquet Dragon Lady without reason. Unbeknown to many she was actually wife #4.

      Next we’re going to find out that you met JFK, Bear Bryant and LBJ (i.e Forrest Gump).

  7. virgil xenophon

    Heh, didn’t notice you’re post above as I was typing furiously away between bites of supper. Yeah, the F-4 DID have a busy cockpit. It & the 105 were at the absolute apogee of the analog era hi-performance aircraft. Plus no HUD or HOTAS, etc. Which is why the rule of thumb was that it took approx 4 yrs in the cockpit (the end of one’s first hitch in those days; four yrs after 1 yr pilot tng. Now it’s a six-yr total commitment–or maybe they’ve recently stretched it to 7? ) before one felt REALLY comfortable and able to wring the max performance out of the ac that it had to offer. Later “glass cockpit” digital generation birds like Lex’s F-18 took, on avg, approx 18 mos to achieve the same level of competence, by contrast..

  8. Pingback: 4 Skyhawk Vietnam

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