The Vietnam War ended almost four decades ago. Relations between Vietnam and the U.S. appear to be growing increasingly close. But many in America, and in Vietnam, find it hard to forget the war, and the people who fought in it. One is Senator John McCain, who is mourning the loss of his comrade-in-arms, George Day.
58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.
Colonel George “Bud” Day won the Medal of Honor in 1976. On August 26, 1967, Day ejected from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. He was captured and made a prisoner of war.
Day escaped captivity, surviving on berries and frogs in the jungle, only to be captured again. He ended up in the same prison cell with a young serviceman who would later become a U.S. senator - John McCain.
McCain said Day was the bravest man he’s ever met, and credits him with saving his life and his morale. "Whenever I felt my spirits and resistance flag, I looked at Bud for the courage to continue, and for the example of how to serve my country in difficult circumstances,” he said.
Colonel Day fought in WWII and the Korean War before going to Vietnam. He retired from active duty in 1977, but remained close to his former cellmate in the “Hanoi Hilton” prison and fought for fellow veterans’ welfare.
Nearly four decades after the war ended, the two countries are working to put the war behind them. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, another Vietnam War veteran, hosted Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in Washington last week.
“Today, when Americans hear the word Vietnam, they are able to think of a country, not a war,” said Kerry.
Yet memories from the war have left an indelible mark on many.
McCain said he’ll miss his friend “Bud” every day for the rest of his life, but he’s sure he’ll see him again. “I know I will. I’ll hunt the field with him, and I look forward to it,” he stated.
George Everett “Bud” Day was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He passed away on July 27 in Florida.