DAY, GEORGE EVERETT
|Name: George Everett Day
Rank/Branch: O4/United States Air Force
Unit: 37th TFW Misty FAC (Commando Sabre Super FACs)
Date of Birth: 24 February 1925
Home City of Record: Niagra Falls NY
Date of Loss: 26 August 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170100N 1065800 E
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F-100F, #3954
PFC/Corp in WWII - 30 months South and Central Pacific April 42 - Nov 45
2 Tours Air Defense F-84's - Radar tracking missions vs. Soviet radar Vladivostok
Bay and Soviet Coast.
Incident No: 0814
Other Personnel in Incident: Capt. Corwin Kippenham, escaped, evaded, rescued, pilot
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 09 March 1997 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews, quotes from "And Brave Men, Too" by Timothy Lowry.
REMARKS: 03/14/73 RELEASED BY DRV
Day was the forward Air Control Pilot in the F-100F on a strike mission over a missile site near the DMZ when he was hit. B-52s were bombing along the southern edge of the DMZ. He started a pass coming in from the southeast to the northwest. He was doing about five hundred and was full of fuel when the plane was hit in the aft section.
The GIB (guy in front) was on his first mission. The sequence for ejection was that the back seat had to go first. Day fired the canopy and punched out. The GIB followed almost immediately and landed about a mile and half away, a little south, between twenty-five and forty miles north of the DMZ. A rescue helicopter picked him up as the Vietcong got to Day. By the time the helicopter attempted Day's rescue, the the Vietcong had stripped Day and had moved about a quarter mile.
In the ejection, Day's left arm was broken in three places, twice in the forearm and once in the upper arm. He was blinded in the left eye for a long time due to a blood clot or a bruise. His left knee was dislocated, as he hit the ground unconscious.
The militia group that captured Day were undisciplined, untrained "kids" between sixteen and twenty years old. That did not prevent them from establishing a brutal torture regimen. Day recalls, "They would tie up my feet with about twenty-five feet of a cotton clothesline rope. It was one of the funniest things you ever saw. They would wrap it around my legs about twenty times and then tie up to sixty granny knots in the rope. Damndest exercise I had ever seen. It was really kind of funny. After they stopped tying my hand to the ceiling, I started practicing and after a while I could untie the whole strand of rope around my feet in twenty or thirty minutes - it was a piece of cake."
Early in his captivity he was able to escape. At the time, Major Day was about forty miles north of the DMZ, and from visual sightings during previous flights, he believed that the region consisted entirely of rice paddies all the way down to the DMZ. However, four or five miles south of the camp, the paddies changed to hard, cleared land. After traversing the rice paddies, Day continued for about ten miles until he hit an area of light forestation at dawn. After making about twenty miles that first night, he stopped to rest near a North Vietnamese artillery position that was firing.
After staying awake more than 24 hours, Day lost all reference to the sky in a cloudy mist. He slid under some bushes and went to sleep. After it stopped raining, "something landed very close to me, and I took a hit in the leg. The concussion picked me up off the ground and then crunch back down. My sinuses and eardrums were ruptured and I was really nauseated. I barfed and barfed and barfed and barfed until I thought I'd barfed my kidneys out. I lost my equilibrium and couldn't even stand up. I was bleeding out of the nose and some of the vomit was bloody. A couple days later when I felt better I took off and was walking fairly well although my leg began to swell because of the shrapnel I'd taken in it. That day I lost about a mile because I started walking in circles. Somewhere about the tenth day I started running out of control. I began to hallucinate and talk out loud. I didn't realize what happens after you starve yourself. It would frighten me to hear myself talking out loud and the hallucinations were just wild."
The hallucinations drove Day right into the path of the Vietcong. He tried to take off running, but after the fourth or fifth step, they started firing. He was hit in the leg and hand, but he continued down the trail for about thirty feet before veering off and passing out. He was unconscious somewhere between eleven and fifteen days. They took him back to the same camp he had escaped from, with the trip lasting thirty-seven hours.
That October he had the first interrogator who spoke English. Day could barely understand him - but the brutality from him was loud and clear. The arm that had partly healed, was broken again.
"They had hung me up from the ceiling and paralyzed this [left] hand for about a year and a half. I could barely move my right hand. My wrist curled up and my fingers were curling. I could just barely move my [right] thumb and forefinger."
"In some of the torture sessions, they were trying to make you surrender. The name of the game was to take as much brutality as you could until you got to the point that you could hardly control yourself and then surrender. The next day they'd start all over again."
"I knew what he was - he was obviously Cuban and had either been raised at or near the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo. He knew every piece of American slang and every bit of American vulgarity, and he knew how to use them perfectly. He knew Americans and understood Americans. He was the only one in Hanoi who did.
"I had gotten to the Zoo on April 30, 1968, and he had already pounded Earl Cobiel out of his senses. No one knows exactly what happened. A young gook, whose name escapes me, and two other beaters beat him all night. They brought him out after a fourteen or fifteen-hour session, and he obviously didn't have a clue as to what was going on. He was totally bewildered and he never came unbewildered.
"The gooks kept thinking he was putting on, so they would keep torturing him. The crowning blow came when one of the guards some people called Goose struck him across the face with a fan belt under his eye, and the eyeball popped out.
"The guy never flinched, and that was the first time the gooks finally got the picture that maybe they'd scrambled his brains.
"It sounds so savage you have trouble picturing it." ----------------
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 02/97 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO with material provided by Col. Bud Day, RET USAF
GEORGE DAY Colonel - United States Air Force Shot Down: August 26, 1967 Released: March 14, 1973
Bud Day was born on February 24, 1925. He dropped out of high school in 1942 to join the Marine Corps where he spent thirty months overseas in the Pacific Theatre, leaving active service in 1945. He joined the Army Reserve, acquired a Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota in 1949, and a BS and Doctor of Humane Letters from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa.
The "smartest move of my life", says Bud was his marrying Doris Marlene Sorensen in 1949. Bud was recalled by the USAF as a Second Lieutenant in 1951 and he attended jet pilot training followed by two tours in Korea and four years flying fighters in England (He made Air Force history with the first no-chute bailout from an F-84-F in 1957!)
The Days adopted their first son, Steven, and were soon reassigned as Commandant of Cadets, St. Louis University, Missouri. Bud acquired a Master of Arts in political science. They adopted a second son, George E. Jr., in 1963 and the family spent three years in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where Colonel Day flew fighters. The family was increased by twin adopted girls, Sandra M., and Sonja M., just before Bud was assigned to fly a F-100 fighter bomber in South Vietnam. After seventy-two missions, he was reassigned as Commander of MISTY, the first jet FAC unit flying in North Vietnam. He was shot down on the sixty-seventh mission while striking a missile site. During ejection he had three breaks in his right arm, and a dislocated left knee.
Colonel Day was the Commander of several Vietnamese prisons, the Zoo, Heartbreak Hotel, Skidrow, and Misty and Eagle Squadrons. He was incarcerated for sixty-seven months, and executed the only successful escape from North Vietnam into the South. He was recaptured near Quang Tri City, South Vietnam, after about two weeks of freedom. He was shot in the left leg and hand, and had shrapel wounds in his right leg. For this he was heavily tortured, since he was labeled as having a "bad attitude." He was "hung", his arms were broken and paralyzed.
As Commander of the Barn in the Zoo, he was the last of the "Old Heads" tortured - a four month stretch in irons, solo, and massive beatings with the fan belt and "rope". Of six, he was one of three who survived from Heartbreak Hotel in 1970.
Asked many times what sustained Americans in this environment, Colonel Day answers: "I am, and have been all my life, a loyal American. I have faith in my country, and am secure in the knowledge that my country is a good nation, responsible to the people of the United States and responsible to the world community of nations. I believed in my wife and children and rested secure in the knowledge that they backed both me and my country. I believe in God and that he will guide me and my country in paths of honorable conduct. I believe in the Code of Conduct of the U.S. fighting man. I believe the most important thing in my life was to return from North Vietnam with honor, not just to return. If I could not return with my honor, I did not care to return at all. I believe that in being loyal to my country that my country will be loyal to me. My support of our noble objectives will make the world a better place in which to live."
Note: Colonel Day has written a book telling of his experiences in more detail. It is entitled, "Return with Honor."
Colonel Day's decorations include our nation's highest - the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart, POW Medal and other Vietnam service awards and medals. He has numerous awards and medals from his service prior to Vietnam.
His family resides in Glendale, Arizona. His wife was intensely active in POW/MIA affairs and was chosen TAC wife of the year as well as receiving other honors for service to the POW-MIA cause. They expect to continue residence in Phoenix and enter law and politics after retirement from the service.
-------------------- George "Bud" Day retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel in 1977. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and is the most decorated officer since MacArthur. Reflecting on his time in captivity, Day says, "Freedom has a special taste!
Day and his wife Doris have been married 48 years . They reside in Florida, where he is a practicing attorney. He is involved with litigation protecting Veterans Health Care Benefits. In his spare time he enjoys hunting. "Bud" and Doris have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.
Medal of Honor
DAY, GEORGE E.
Rank and organization: Colonel (then Major), U.S. Air Force, Forward Air Controller Pilot of an F-100 aircraft
Place and date: North Vietnam, 26 August 1967
Entered service at: Sioux City, Iowa
Born: 24 February 1925, Sioux City, Iowa
On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.
American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day by Robert Coram
First he won the Medal of Honor, then he took on the U.S. government-the riveting story of Colonel George "Bud" Day, the most decorated officer in modern U.S. history. (Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, Biography, $27.99, ISBN: 0-316-75847-7 / 978-0-316-75847-5) Pub date: May 3, 2007
Chapter 1: www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/books/5/0316758477/chapter_excerpt24756.html
It has been our pleasure to receive and review and early copy of this fine book.
The story took on a very personal note as we met Bud and Dorie Day through Col Ted Guy back in 1996. Bud had JUST started on his campaign of "Broken Promises" on a long road through the courts and we were able to watch a true patriot in action from the beginning of the fight to the end.
The book was impossible to put down. The little bits of Bud's life we knew from our time at reunions and chance meetings took on a new perspective with Coram's book. The glimpses into his soul as the story details his life leads one to believe he is much more an extraordinary man than a rare yet annual meeting might reveal.
His determination, his faith, his perseverance through 3 wars, captivity with the most horrific of circumstances, his bold fight against the United States Government on behalf of WWII veterans health care, his fight with honor and integrity during the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry, all supported by a caring and determined family, gives one a story that is truly worth reading over and over again.
We were able to walk away after reading this book with a revelation that we have truly gotten to know an outstanding officer, a faithful husband, and a special father worthy of the name "hero."
Thanks for the intro Col Guy. Thank You Robert Coram - for the rest of the story. ========================
Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel
by Robert Coram
First he won the Medal of Honor, then he took on the U.S. government—the riveting story of Colonel George "Bud" Day, the most decorated officer in modern U.S. history. (Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, Biography, $27.99, ISBN: 0-316-75847-7 / 978-0-316-75847-5)
Pub date: May 3, 2007