George "Bud" Day

By Brantson Lambert

      To be a hero is to be brave when no one else will. To be able to put aside your own safety to make sure every one else is safe. To be a hero is not to be fearless, but to have fear and be able to face it. And one person who is that hero is George "Bud" Day.

     George Day was 17 when he convinced his parents to volunteer in the Marine Corps in 1942. In 1950 he joined the Air National Guard. In 1955 he joined the U.S. Air Force. While he was in the Air Force he served in Vietnam. On August 26, 1967, George was flying a mission to find military targets and call in air strikes on them when enemy ground fire hit his plane and destroyed his hydraulic controls forcing it into a steep dive. When he ejected, he smashed into a fuselage and broke his arm in three places. North Vietnamese soldiers that were below saw his parachute and waited for him to land. And so they captured George and took him to a camouflage bunker. When he didn't answer to interrogators they did a mock execution, then hung him up side down for several hours. For sure that he would not run because he was hurt so badly, they tied him up with loose knotted rope. So on his fifth day in camp, while two careless teens were guarding him, he untied himself and escaped.

       On his second night on the run, George was sleeping in thick undergrowth when either a bomb or a rocket landed nearby. The concussion left him bleeding from his ears and nose and sent shrapnel into his leg. Even so, he continued to hobble south for the next several days, eating berries and frogs and successfully avoiding enemy patrols.

       Sometime between the twelfth and fifteenth day after his escape George heard helicopters and stumbled toward the sound. It was U.S. helicopters evacuating a Marine unit, but they left just as he got to the landing zone. The next morning, still heading south, he ran into a North Vietnamese Army patrol. As he limped toward the jungle to get away, he was shot in the leg and hand and captured soon afterward. He was taken back to the camp from which he had escaped and subjected to more torture.

         A few days later he was moved to the "Hanoi Hilton." His untreated wounds were infected, and he was suffering from malnutrition and unable to perform even the simple tasks. For more than five years, George resisted the North Vietnamese guards who tortured him. On one occasion in 1971, when guards burst in with rifles as some of the American prisoners gathered for a forbidden religious service, Major George "Bud" Day  stood up, looked down the muzzles of the guns, and began to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." The other men there with George  soon joined him.

      George "Bud'' Day is a hero to me because he risked his life to keep the North Vietnamese from knowing information about the US. In that matter he also faced fear by looking down barrels of guns and not saying a word. Because George could have easily been killed. And also George was very brave to not say a word to go through a lot of suffering and pain. And he went through all that for what reason we don't know, but we can guess that he did because he loves his country. And because he's a hero.

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