Col. Bud Day fought in three U.S. wars
MIAMI – Retired Col. George “Bud” Day, a Medal of Honor recipient who spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in Vietnam and was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s cellmate, has died at the age of 88, his widow said Sunday.
Day, one of the nation’s most highly decorated servicemen since Gen. Douglas MacArthur and later a tireless advocate for veterans’ rights, died Saturday surrounded by family at his home in Shalimar, after a long illness, Doris Day said.
“He would have died in my arms if I could have picked him up,” she said.
Day received the Medal of Honor for escaping his captors for 10 days after the aircraft he was piloting was shot down over North Vietnam on Aug. 26, 1967. In all, he earned more than 70 medals during service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
He was an enlisted Marine serving in the Pacific during World War II and an Air Force pilot in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
In Vietnam, he was McCain’s cellmate at one camp known as the Plantation and later in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where he was often the highest-ranking captive. During his imprisonment, the once-muscular, 5-foot-9 Day was hung by his arms for days, tearing them from their sockets. He was freed in 1973 – a skeletal figure of the once-dashing fighter pilot. His hands and arms never functioned properly again.
In the spring of 1968, Day’s North Vietnamese captors opened his cell door and brought in McCain, who was wearing a full body cast and was nearly dead. McCain had been in isolation for seven weeks and could not wash or feed himself, Day wrote in his 1989 autobiography.