Local War Hero Col. Bud Day Dies at 88; Sioux City Reme

It's a day of solemn remembrance as Siouxland and the nation pay tribute to the life of Colonel George "Bud" Day.

Day was a national war hero and local legend.

He died over the weekend at the age of 88.

He was a veteran of three wars and a survivor of brutal torture by the North Vietnamese.

The colonel gave more than 30 years of service to the military: first as a Marine during World War Two, then as a member of the Air Guard, and eventually as a member of the Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Today, many remember the colonel for his local roots in Sioux City and the example he set for this community.

An example of not just the ultimate military role model, but also a picture of what a loving human being should look like, that is how many are remembering the late Colonel Bud Day after decades of sacrifice for this country and Sioux City.

Described as a through and through patriot, Colonel Day was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor after escaping his captors when his aircraft was shot down in North Vietnam.

Here in Siouxland, Colonel Day is remembered for this service as well as his humble character and local beginnings.

"We all can make a difference," said Col. Day.

The veteran grew up in Riverside, which he credits with teaching him not only his survival skills, but also his morals.

And many around the region, said he lived those values every day, with every life he touched.

"His first visit back to Sioux City after his release in 1973 from the POW camp, I got to interview and shoot pictures of Bud. And he was a very gracious, very humble man--very proud of his service record-- and very supportive of recognizing the efforts and contribution made by all military branches," said Larry Finley, army Vietnam veteran and executive director of MidAmerica Air Museum.

Colonel Day went on to practice law and advocate for veterans and their medical benefits, causing Congress to enact what's now known as TRICARE for career military retirees.

But throughout that time he never forgot home. Because of that, Sioux City honors his legacy.

When his statue was memorialized in 2002, it wasn't simply for national contributions, it was also for what Bud Day did amongst the hometown and the patriotism he showed while doing it.

At the 185th refueling wing, Master Sergeant John Sandman said it was natural to honor Colonel Day.

"Colonel and Mrs. Day both grew up in Sioux City and they love Sioux City and the idea that the Sioux City airport would be named in his honor was-- I think it was a happy occasion for him," said Sandman.

Many hope Colonel Day's passing will be a reminder of the greatness that lives within Sioux City, and the example the war-hero has set for generations to come.

"He loved life, he was always happy, he was always looking for the positive, he was always trying to do things, and if we could all the love life to a degree that Colonel Day did, the world would be a better place," reflected Sandman.

Sioux City plans to continue honoring the fallen hero with several projects, which include the Siouxland Freedom Park on the Missouri river, where officials hope to add a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and honor Colonel Day.