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Col. "Bud" Day speaks at Briar Cliff

Col. George E. "Bud" Day speaks at Briar Cliff University on May 6, 2011. Day, who died in 2013 at age 88, is one of the most decorated servicemen.

SIOUX CITY | He was born in Sioux City on Feb. 24, 1925, as George Everett Day, but most people know him as Bud.

The former colonel and pilot served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. 

He became one of the most highly decorated servicemen as well as an unwavering advocate for veterans rights.

Day was 17 when he dropped out of Central High School in 1942 and volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps. After spending 30 months in the South Pacific during World War II, he returned home and enrolled at Morningside College.

Day joined the Army Reserve in 1946 and served for three years. He continued his military career when he was recalled to active duty in 1951 by the U.S. Air Force. He served two tours during the Korean War as a fighter-bomber pilot. He then spent four years flying fighter jets in England.

After he volunteered for a tour in the Vietnam War, Day was assigned to fly an F-100 fighter bomber in South Vietnam. During a mission in 1967, his aircraft was shot down and he was captured. He shared a cell with future U.S. Sen. John McCain, from Arizona, who was a Navy lieutenant commander.

In 1973, after five years and seven months as a prisoner of war, Day was released and within three days was reunited with his wife and four children. Three years later, President Gerald Ford awarded Day the Medal of Honor for his bravery while a captive in North Vietnam. He also received the Air Force Cross, the second highest military award given to members of the USAF.

Day retired from active duty in 1977 and had a total of nearly 8,000 flying hours. Sioux Gateway Airport was named in his honor -- Col. Bud Day Field -- in May 2002.

Day published two autobiographies about his experiences as a POW: “Return with Honor” and “Duty, Honor, Country.”

He died July 27, 2013, at his home in Shalimar, Fla., at age 88.


Weekender reporter

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