Colonel George "Bud" Day's memory lives on in Siouxland - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Colonel George "Bud" Day's memory lives on in Siouxland

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Colonel George "Bud" Day was considered one of this country's most beloved war heroes.

And, nowhere was that admiration felt more strongly than in Sioux City.

Day's memory will live on in Siouxland. The runway at Sioux Gateway Airport was named after the war hero who was born and raised in Sioux City.

"It's one of the wonders of my life that I was lucky enough to be born in this great community," Day said in December of 2002 at his statue's unveiling at the Sioux Gateway Airport.

Day held nearly 70 military decorations and awards, including the most distinguished medal of honor.

He said he was able to use a lot of what he learned in Sioux City.

"I grew up with a lot of very good values, went to some very good schools," Day said.

He fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

While in Vietnam in August of 1967, his Air Force F-100 was shot down.

Day was captured by the North Vietnamese and held as a prisoner of war for 5 years and 7 months.

He was held captive with Navy Pilot John McCain, a current U.S. senator and former presidential candidate.

"My first thought was these guys dumped him on me, so they could claim that I let him die, but he had no intention of dying," Day said about McCain.

Day spent time on the campaign trail with Senator McCain.

He was happy he was able to get out and take part in daily activities after he suffered a minor stroke.

"I've been able to get out and do all the stuff I want to do," Day said.

Along with the runway being named after the war hero, there is also a 9-foot-tall statue of the Colonel at Sioux City's airport. And, to Day, the statue meant more than just recognition of his own heroic efforts.

"It's a magnificent statue. It's about the most basic of human needs. It's about freedom. These warriors at this gathering know freedom is not free," Day said.

Considered the country's most decorated living war veteran, he will now be remembered here at home and across the world as a patriot who stood up for his country and our freedom.

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