American Hero, Col. Bud Day is Remembered

On August 1, 2013, a memorial service for Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Bud Day was attended by thousands at the Emerald Coast Convention Center in Fort Walton Beach, FL. The American hero passed away on June 27, 2013 at his home in Shalimar, FL, surrounded by loved ones.

To honor this military hero, a motorcycle-riding Patriot Guard led a 400-vehicle procession from the memorial service to Pensacola Naval Air Station for the burial. At Pensacola Naval Air Station, hundreds of military personnel stood at attention on Duncan Road awaiting the procession. At the burial site, four F-4 Phantom aircrafts flew over the mourners in a missing man formation, with one plane splitting off and flying towards the clouds. Later in the service, an Air Force honor guard fired a 21-gun salute.

Throughout his heroic 35-year career in the Armed Forces, Col. Day served in three branches of the military - the Marines, Army, and Air Force; three wars - World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; and earned over 70 medals for his distinguished service. It was, however, for his service in the Vietnam War that he received the Medal of Honor by escaping his captors for 10 days after the aircraft he was piloting was shot down. After later being caught and imprisoned, he spent five-and-a-half brutal years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Col. Day was freed in 1973, but due to the torture he endured during his incarceration, his hands and arms suffered permanent damage.

Having passed the bar prior to his combat service, Col. Day practiced law in Florida after retiring from the Air Force in 1977. Later in life, he became known as a notable advocate for veterans’ benefits by prompting Congress to pass legislation in 2000 that expanded the military's TRICARE health insurance program.

Day will surely be remembered for his unwavering patriotism during his legendary 35-year military career and his tireless efforts to secure benefits for deserving veterans. Said retired Navy Cmdr. Robert Flynn, "He was the greatest hero this country ever produced."