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Popular culture applies the word “super hero” to men and women who have exceptional powers that are not of this world. Col. George “Bud” Day had super powers that were forged by character from the best materials of this world — honor, duty, courage.
Colonel Day was an Air Force fighter pilot who won the Medal of Honor for his gallantly defiant behavior as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and suffering a broken arm as well as eye and back injuries as he ejected, he was soon captured but managed to escape five days later.
Barefoot, wounded and weak, he trekked all the way back to South Vietnam. He was caught again and taken back to prison camps in the north, including the notorious “Hanoi Hilton.”
Colonel Day shared a cell for a time with a downed Navy flier, future Arizona Sen. John McCain. In his more than five years as a POW, he survived brutal torture without ever divulging useful information to his captors.
The much-decorated airman — before he won to the Medal of Honor, he was given more than 70 medals and awards, including the Air Force Cross, for his combat exploits — died last week at age 88. Mr. McCain mourned him as “my friend, my leader, my inspiration.” He should be an inspiration to all Americans.
In the 2004 presidential campaign, Colonel Day supported the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group because he resented Sen. John Kerry’s antiwar activities after the Democratic nominee came back from Vietnam. But old political grudges should not be held against him.
Col. Bud Day was the real thing.