Retired Col. George 'Bud' Day, left, laughs with Arizona Sen. John McCain at a Veterans Town Hall Meeting in Phoenix in 2010. Day, a Medal of Honor recipient who spent 51/2 years as a POW in Vietnam and was McCain's cellmate, died Saturday after a long illness. He was 88. (Ross Franklin/AP)
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Retired Air Force Col. George “Bud” Day was “the bravest man I ever knew, and I’ve know more than a few,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Monday. “No one had more guts.”
“I could never imagine Bud yielding to anything, even, I thought, the laws of nature,” McCain said Monday of the man he spend 5½ years with in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp. “I always thought he would outlive us all.”
Day, 88, who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, died Saturday after what his family said was a long illness.
“To say he lived a full life would be quite an understatement,” McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor. “Bud knew defeats and triumphs on a scale few will know.
“He lived moments filled with every conceivable emotion. He knew terror and suffering, he knew job and deliverance, he knew solidarity, self-respect and dignity,” McCain said.
It was Day and Air Force Maj. Norris Overly who helped nurse McCain back to health after he was shot down and captured in 1967.
“They bathed me, fed me, nursed me, encouraged me and ordered me back to life,” McCain said. Overly did most of the work, McCain said, because Day had been “beaten savagely by his captors” after he had escaped and temporarily made it back to South Vietnam.
“I looked to Bud for the courage to continue and for the example of how to serve my country in difficult circumstances,” McCain said. “He was great company, too, and made it possible to actually have fun in prison once in a while.”
McCain said he saw Day regularly, and that the retiree had worked on his political campaigns as an adviser. “We argued sometimes, agreed more often, laughed a lot and always enjoyed each other’s company. I am going to miss him terribly.”