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Posted by Jolly on April 24, 2013

Bud Day, My Hero Long Before Vietnam

  by Mark Berent   



            In 1957 USAF Captain George “Bud” Day came TDY from Flying F-84s at Weathersfield, UK to Etain AB, France to check out in the F-100. He was assigned to the 562nd FBS where I was a first lieutenant also upgrading in the bird from F-86s. Bud was an affable guy and we casually started a friendly rivalry as to whom was amassing the most time in the Super Sabre. I, a bachelor, would see Bud from time to time in our scruffy green-painted cinder-block Officer’s Club.

            Though we almost always wore flight suits in the Club, one night I was there in khakis and quite solemnly getting hammered all by myself while seated at the bar. For what reason, I don’t recall but probably had to do with a Dear John letter I had received. I was doing a good job since I had started at the top of the bar’s drink list and was working my way down ordering each one in turn. Though not noisy or rambunctious, I was pretty wobbly, bleary-eyed, and becoming rather disheveled. Several of my friends had approached and tried to draw me into a conversation, concerned over my apparent withdrawal. I would not respond and grew progressively more morosely smashed.

            Then Bud Day came over, stood next to me and put his arm around my shoulder. Looking back, I recall he seemed rather large. In a friendly, confidential voice he began to speak some pretty serious words about what I was doing. Now we all know that TDY pukes have no business stepping out of line with we permanent party luminaries, rank not withstanding. What nerve. But I began to listen.

            “I’m not here to start a beef,” he said in a kindly voice, “but I must tell you what I am thinking. First off, you are getting quite drunk. I really don’t care about that. But,” and he emphasized the ‘but,’ “you are wearing the uniform of the service I love and not wearing it well. That I will not tolerate. Why don’t you just go back to the Q, change into civvies then you can come back and pass out on the floor for all I care.”

            My first reaction was one of anger. Where did this guy, this TDY puke,  get off telling me what I can or cannot do in my own Officer’s Club. That thought died aborning. He had said exactly the right thing in exactly the right way. I straightened up, looked him in the eye, and said, “You are right,” and left the Club immediately and never returned.

            Perhaps in some people’s eyes this was a trivial event that didn’t necessarily reflect either heroism or conviction on his part. To me it was monumental. Obviously, since I remember it so well even today. It had a profound effect on me. You know, we are all influenced one way or another, small or large, positive or negative, by practically everyone we meet and everything we witness. Sometimes in a tiny way it changes our life in some vague aspect we aren’t even aware of. We may even, unknowingly, become a better person.

            So what effect did Bud Day’s action have on me? Two things; have firm convictions and have the courage to stand up for them at all times.

            I doubt if Bud even remembers that long ago scene in an obscure O’Club. But I surely do, and have admired Bud from that day forward. So, though it was a shock as to what he went through as a POW it was no surprise that he carried himself so heroically. Macho be damned, there goes a real man.                                      


Posted by Chilly on
I too had the pleasure of meeting Bud during my tour at RAF Bentwaters. We flew our Voodo's to Tripoli for our gunnery qualifications where I first met Bud. I had the pleasure of meeting him again at the Medal of Honor Convention in Shreveport, LA (2002) and by the way, his wife Doris is a Class Act also. My most memorable meeting with Bud and Doris was at the Rat Convention in Norfolk where I had the honor of presenting the POW/MIA plaques (see attached picture)which were donated by my good friend SMSgt Dave Degeest, USAF, Ret.
Posted by Jolly on
Mark, Bud attended the banquet at the River Rat reunion last month in Pensacola. He is very thin and looks frail. Cancer is taking a toll on him and it appears that he won't be with us much longer. Here's a nickel on the grass for another great American hero as he banks right, turns west, and slips into history.

Jim Bell
CinCRat 2001-2003
Posted by Jolly on
From George:

Jolly, Thanks for the wonderful, touching story about Bud and Mark..Bud is my friend through River Rats and Mistys. Mark did a Great job of capturing an important moment of Bud’s leadership. Ck SIX! George
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