Politicizing the Congressional Medal of Honor
Col. Bud Day, his Medal of Honor and the McCain campaign's abuse of our nation's highest award for valor.
U.S. Veteran Dispatch
May 09, 2008
Former Air Force colonel and Medal of Honor recipient George "Bud" Day, 83, has been a close friend of presidential candidate
John McCain since 1967 when they shared a cell for 3 months in a Vietnamese POW camp.
For years, Day has been waving his Medal of Honor at political events in support of McCain's political ambitions.
His politicizing of our highest military award for valor has bothered me for as many years.
When I finally took a look at his Medal of Honor Citation, some discrepancies stood out like festering thumb splinter.
Day, who claims to be the most decorated serviceman since Gen. Douglas MacArthur with more
than 70 medals including the Medal of Honor, is McCain's leading frontman and apologist.
North Vietnamese gunners shot Day down Aug. 26, 1967, two months before they shot Navy
pilot McCain's bomber out of the sky on Oct. 26.
When Day ejected from his crippled F-!00, he broke his right arm in three places when he struck
the side of the cockpit. He also sustained eye, leg and back injuries.
Although Day and McCain suffered similar injuries, they had unique POW experiences. Day claims he escaped after being "hung
upside down and severely tortured for two days." He said that despite being "barefooted,
severely crippled, disoriented, vomiting blood" and
with no equilibrium, he outran enemy soldiers and their tracking dogs for two days before being
captured again. Day said he managed to escape again outrunning the enemy and
their dogs for nearly two weeks
before he was captured a third and final time.
Day was released after five years and seven months as a North Vietnamese prisoner on Mar. 14,
1973. Three years later, President Gerald Ford awarded Day the Medal of Honor
citing his personal
bravery "above and beyond the call of duty" while a captive in North Vietnam.
McCain's right arm was broken in three places and his left arm and right knee were fractured
when he ejected.
He says that on his fourth day of captivity, he was so sure he was going to die if he did not
get special medical treatment, he offered the communists "military information" in exchange for
taking him to a hospital.
After being told that McCain's father and grandfather were famous high-ranking American
admirals, the Vietnamese rushed the seriously injured McCain to Gai Lam military hospital (U.S.
government documents), a medical facility normally unavailable to treat U.S. POWs. McCain's
father, Adm. John McCain, was later appointed commander of all U.S. forces fighting in
Vietnam. His grandfather was a famous WWII admiral.
Because the communists believed McCain was from "royal family," they considered him a
"crown prince" who would when finally released return to the United States to an important
military or government job.
While being treated in the hospital, McCain made a series of propaganda statements for the
communist including at least one television interview during which he gave specific "military
information" pertaining to his mission. McCain was quoted in the communist press describing
the number of aircraft in his flight, information about rescue ships and the order of which his
attack was supposed to take place.
In December, six weeks after he was shot down, the Vietnamese transferred McCain from the
hospital to a POW camp called "The Plantation" and into the hands of Day and Air Force Major
Day and Overly helped nurse McCain until he was eventually able to walk by himself. Day spent
about three months with McCain before he was moved to another camp.
McCain was released from captivity on March 14, 1973 after spending 5 ½ years as a POW. He
returned to the United States to his wife Carol and children.
McCain was awarded a Silver Star Medal for resisting "extreme mental and physical cruelties"
inflicted upon him by his captors from late October to early December 1967, the exact time
frame during which McCain was in the hospital making propaganda statements for the enemy
in exchange for medical treatment.
During their stay in POW camps, Day and McCain developed a close personal (and now
political) friendship which continued after they were released in 1973.
In January 1980, soon after McCain met Cindy Hensley, a former cheerleader whose family
owned one of the country's largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship, it was Day, then a Fort
Walton Beach attorney, who McCain called on to file divorce papers against his wife Carol.
While McCain was imprisoned, Carol was in an auto wreck (Christmas Eve 1969). She was
thrown through her car's windshield and left permanently crippled. Despite her injures, she
refused to allow her POW husband to be notified about her condition, fearing that such news
would not be good for him while he was being held prisoner.
When McCain returned to the United States in 1973 after more than five years as a prisoner of
war, he found his wife was a different person. The accident "left her 4 inches shorter"
(The Nightingale's Song, by Robert Timberg) and on
crutches, and she had gained a good deal of weight.
McCain wasted no time before he was out on the town partying. While Executive Officer and
later as Squadron Commander of a Navy training unit, McCain used his authority to arrange frequent flights that allowed
him to carouse with female subordinates and "engage in extramarital affairs" (The Nightingale's Song, by Robert Timberg).
McCain eventually met Hensley, 17 years his junior, and fell in love at first sight.
Day used the soft touch of his friendship with Carol to obtain an
uncontested divorce from
Florida on April 2, 1980. McCain promptly married Hensley on May 17, 1980. Today, Cindy
Hensley McCain is said to be worth 100 million dollars.
When McCain set out to help Hanoi by discrediting POW/MIA families, former POWs and
veterans who were demanding no normalized trade or diplomatic relations with Vietnam until
Hanoi accounted for the POWs known to have been alive in captivity, but never released, Day,
unhesitatingly answered the call.
In a Jan. 24, 2000 letter to conservative columnist Paul Weyrich, Day described POW/MIA activists as "a
cottage industry of nut cases and 'Bring them Home' frauds that victimized POW families and
the public after we [U.S. prisoners of war] were released from Vietnam." Day signed off in the letter with "George
'Bud' Day, Medal of Honor, POW 1967-1973."
Day was upset over a column in which Weyrick quoted Col. Earl
a former chairman of the board of the National League of Families, criticizing McCain for
"never turning a finger to help any of the [POW-MIA] families."
Hopper, a Vietnam veteran and father of MIA Lt. Col. Earl P. Hopper, Jr., lost over North
Vietnam in 1968, contends that at a minimum, 66 men were left behind when McCain and the other POWs were released in 1973.
Former N.C. Congressman Bill Hendon and MIA daughter, Elizabeth Stewart put the number much
higher in their book "An Enormous Crime."
Hopper says that McCain undermined every effort to get the federal government to acknowledge that men were left behind.
Here are the names of some returned POWs Day slandered with his "Bring them Home frauds"
remarks: Navy Captain Eugene "Red" McDaniel, Col. Ted Guy (deceased), Ltc Col. Nick Rowe
(deceased), Msg. Daniel L. Pitzer (deceased), Maj. Mark Smith, Mike Benge, Larry Stark and
Maj. John Parcels.
During that same period, Day emailed me a mean spirited letter in response to articles I had
written questioning McCain's behavior while a prisoner. He called me a lair and falsely claimed
that it was impossible for McCain to have collaborated with the enemy because he knew where
McCain was and what he was doing during the entire 5 ½ years McCain was held POW. That
was an impossible feat since McCain claims he spent most of his time being tortured in solitary
confinement away from other U.S. POWs.
Recently, Day and his Medal of Honor have been thrust to the front of McCain's campaign again,
this time to deflect criticism of McCain and give testimony about the "strength of McCain's
Just before the South Carolina primary, I released a flier to the South Carolina press for Vietnam
Veterans Against John McCain that offered specific information detailing McCain's
collaborations with the enemy. McCain's campaign responded immediately, parading Day in
front of the press introducing him as "a famously heroic Medal of Honor winner who also shared
a cell with McCain."
On cue, Day stepped before the cameras and declared the flier "the most
outrageous f--king lie I've ever heard." Day claims that McCain's collaborations with the enemy were technically not violations of the
Military Code of Conduct.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions on Jan. 6, 1968, near
Chu Lai, South Vietnam said the following of the Medal of Honor: "I was awarded the Medal of
Honor, but my fellow soldiers who supported me in the actions and took the time to write it up
earned it. I wear it for them. They own my medals. And every Medal of Honor recipient and
hero I know believes as I do. Medals should be a sign of patriotism, a symbol of sacrifice,
support and defense of a great nation. The highest form of patriotism is service to our youth;
heroes also wear their medal for them to signal the importance of courage.
Heroes do not use
their medals for personal political gain. As I said they are not theirs to use."
During the 2004 election, Day used his Medal of Honor to weigh in on the controversy
surrounding presidential candidate John Kerry's military service and medals. Day was very
critical of Kerry declaring that by bringing up his Vietnam service Kerry had "opened up his
character as a war hero" for criticism. Day said, "Kerry's character is not only fair game, it is the
Day has habitably and fragrantly politicized his Medal of Honor. By using it's awe-inspiring
prestige as authorization to attack the credibility of other POWs, veterans and POW/MIA family
members, he has "opened up his character as a war hero" to questions
about the award of his Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States
government. It is awarded by the President in the name of Congress to a military person who
distinguishes himself or herself significantly by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while
engaged against an enemy of the United States.
The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so outstanding as to
clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.
Unquestionable proof in the form of eyewitnesses to the deed is required before the award of the
Medal of Honor can be considered.
Other than surviving captivity, exactly what deed did Day perform that was "above and beyond
the call of duty?"
What life threatening action of personal bravery and self-sacrifice did Day perform that "clearly
distinguished" him above his comrades?
The following is a paraphrased account of Day's escape and
evasion from the North Vietnamese that U.S. authorities used to justify
awarding him the Medal of Honor: On 26
August1967, Air Force Maj. George "Bud" Day was forced to eject from his aircraft
over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire.
During the ejection, his right arm was
broken in 3 places, and his left knee badly sprained. Upon landing, Day was immediately captured
by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was hung upside down and severely
tortured for two days.
Day managed to escape on September 1. Barefooted and severely crippled,
he traveled south for 2
days outrunning enemy soldiers who were using dogs ... both of his feet became bruised and cut
from sharp rocks and battle debris.
On September 3, Day was wounded again from either a bomb or rocket. The blast ruptured
eardrums and sinuses. Shrapnel cut large open wounds in his right leg. He became disoriented and
began vomiting blood and lost equilibrium. Totally debilitated, he crawled into bushes and lay
hidden for two days.
Although seriously wounded, with an arm broken in 3 places, a severely swollen knee, ruptured
eardrums, large open wounds in his leg, vomiting blood and no equilibrium, Day managed to
resume his escape south on September 5. Existing only on berries and two raw frogs,
wandered aimlessly for several more days.
Despite all his broken bones and other injuries, on approximately September 8,
Day swam the Ben Hai River which marked the boundaries of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South
Vietnam. For another week, Day evaded communist patrols in South Vietnam.
Sometime on or about September 15, Day was surprised by an enemy patrol. Although, shot and
wounded again, this time in his left hand and thigh, he managed to escape once more, staying
on the run for another day and a half.
On Sept.17, 22 days after being shot down, Day was recaptured and marched to a POW camp back
in North Vietnam. The communists tortured him for 48 hours straight causing him to become
totally incapacitated and unable perform even the simplest task. His wounds festered into
dangerous infection and his captors continued to refuse him medical treatment.
Sometime in middle November, Day was sent north to the infamous Hoa Lo prison camp where
was subjected to non-stop torture and refused any type of medical treatment. Finally, this
totally destroyed him physically.
Near the end of November, about two months after Day
was shot down, he was placed into a
prison cell with U.S. POW Norris Overly.
In December, the Vietnamese put seriously injured POW John McCain in the cell with
and Overly. They took care of McCain until he was able to walk again.
By involving his Medal of Honor in politics and using it as an authority to trash other veterans, Day has
"opened up his character as a war hero" for criticism. Day planted the standard for himself when he said that
"Kerry's character is not only fair game, it is the primary issue."
Day's character and the legitimacy of his Medal of Honor "is not only fair game, it is the primary issue."
Military regulation requires that before the award of a Medal of Honor can be considered, unquestionable proof in the form of
eyewitnesses must be provided.
Day had no witnesses because he was alone. Why was the "eye
witnesses" requirement waived for Day?
Who approved Day for the Medal of Honor and did McCain or his admiral father have anything to do with it?
John McCain and Bud Day have formed a political tag team to deflect inquiries about McCain's questionable conduct
while in captivity. They have cynically used the Medal of Honor as a shield - but in the process they have stained it.