There can be no doubt. Col. George “Bud” Day, the Sioux City, Iowa, native who served in three wars and received the Medal of Honor, was a patriot.
Day, who died over the weekend at age 88, earned more than 70 medals serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, where he was a prison camp cell mate of Sen. John McCain and suffered horrible torture. “He was the bravest man I ever knew,” McCain said.
Day joined the Marines in 1942 while still in high school. Returning home, he earned a law degree and entered the Iowa National Guard. Called up for the Korean War, he served two tours as a bomber pilot.
In Vietnam, his plane was shot down. He bailed out, but the landing broke his knee and right arm and left him temporarily blinded in one eye. He was captured by the North Vietnamese, then escaped only to be retaken. But he continued to defy his captors.
“Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance,” says his Medal of Honor citation. “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.”
And that wasn't all. Day resumed practicing law and became a staunch voice for veterans, helping many get the health care they deserved. He kept up that fight into his 80s, advocating for Iraq veterans.
The Medal of Honor citation describes Day's “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” Most of us would rightly call him a hero.