Gathering of Eagles Foundation

Honored as an Eagle in:

1992 2001 2002 2004 2006 2007 2008 2010 2013

Eagle Biography

George E. Day

Colonel George E. "Bud" Day was born in Iowa in 1925. He is America's most highly decorated living soldier, and the most highly decorated since General Douglas MacArthur. In a military career spanning 34 years and three wars, Day received seventy decorations, more than fifty of them for combat. They include the Congressional Medal of Honor. Day started his military career as a Marine enlisted man in 1942 and served 30 months in the South Pacific during World War II. Returning home, he entered college, studied law, and passed the bar examination in 1949. In 1950, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Iowa National Guard. He joined the Air Force in 1951 and completed pilot training later that year. He then served two tours in the Far East as a fighter-bomber pilot during the Korean War, flying F-84s.

Day also earned the distinction, while stationed in England, of living through the first no-parachute bailout from a burning fighter. Recognition of his experience and abilities led to his selection as the initial commander of the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the first "Misty" Super FAC unit. In F-100Fs, he and his men flew missions over North Vietnam, finding and marking targets for other fighter-bombers to strike. The Misty squadron flew one of the most dangerous missions of the Vietnam War. In Day's case, his accumulation of over 5000 hours of flying time and 4500 hours of single-engine jet time came to an abrupt halt while on a mission in the back seat of an F-100F, checking out a new Misty pilot.

On 26 August 1967, Day was shot down over North Vietnam. Following his ejection, the North Vietnamese captured him. Despite serious injuries, he managed to escape his captors and evade through the Demilitarized Zone back into South Vietnam. Within sight of friendly aircraft, the enemy recaptured him. He was then returned to the North, where he was imprisoned. He is the only prisoner ever to escape from North Vietnam and return all the way through the Demilitarized Zone to South Vietnam. Thus, he began a 67-month ordeal that would end only when he was released from captivity. On 14 March 1973, Day left Vietnam in a C-141, and, with his fellow POWs, returned to freedom. In short order, he was reunited with his wife and four children in the United States. After a short recuperative period, Day was returned to active flying status. Colonel Day retired from active duty in 1977. He now travels and lectures to civilian and military audiences about the war, their POW experiences, and his book, Return with Honor.

See the Lithograph
Lithograph Setting

On 8 August 1967, 23 miles WNW of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam. Major Bud Day, in an F-100F, identified an enemy storage area. Controlling eight F-105s, he directed bombs on target, destroying SAMS, trucks, and tons of supplies, despite heavy ground fire. A jeep escaped from the destruction. Major Day pursued and fired a white phosphorous rocket. It went through the windshield, destroying the jeep and three enemy troops. Returning to the storage area, Major Day directed F-105s against the site as the enemy tried to recover SAMS. He also marked tunnels for F-4s to close. Major Day then returned home--just another day for Misty 01.

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