Tag Archives: Vietnam War

26 August 1967

Colonel George Everette Day, United States Air Force

MEDAL OF HONOR

Rank and organization: Colonel (then Major), U.S. Air Force, Forward Air Controller Pilot of an F-100 aircraft.
Place and date: North Vietnam, August 26, 1967.
Entered service at: Sioux City, Iowa.
Born: February 24, 1925, Sioux City, Iowa.

Citation: On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

North American Aviation F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre 56-3954 on landing approac. This is teh fighter bomber flown by Captain Kippenham and Major Day, 26 August 1967. (U.S. Navy)
North American Aviation F-100F-15-NA Super Sabre 56-3954 on landing approach to Yokota Air Base, Japan, 12 May 1966. This is the fighter bomber flown by Captain Kippenham and Major Day, 26 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)

George Everette Day was born at Sioux City, Iowa, 24 February 1925. He was the second child of John Edward Day, a laborer, and Christina Marie Larson Day, an immigrant from Denmark.

George Day attended Central High School in Sioux City. During his senior class year, he dropped out of school immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II. On 10 December 1941, Day enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. After training, he was assigned to the Seacoast Artillery Group, 16th Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force. Day was deployed to the Pacific 23 May 1943. He then was sent to Johnston Island as a member of the Marine Defense Force. Johnston Island was one of four small islands of an atoll, approximately 860 miles southwest of the island of Hawaii. It was an important refueling point for airplanes and submarines. Corporal Day remained there throughout the war. He returned to the United States 9 November 1945 and was released from service 24 November 1945.

George Day enlisted in the United States Army Reserve, 11 December 1946. He served with the Iowa National Guard for three years while attending college. He studied at Morningside College, a private liberal arts college in Sioux City, earning a bachelor of science degree, and then the University of South Dakota School of Law, at Vermillion, South Dakota, graduating with the degree of Juris Doctor. He was admitted to the State Bar of South Dakota in 1949.

Also in 1949, Day married Miss Doris Merline Sørensen, also from Sioux City, and the daughter of Norwegian immigrants. They would later adopt four children.

Lieutenant George E. Day, USAF

On 17 May 1950, Day was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Iowa Air National Guard. Ten months later, Lieutenant Day was placed on active duty and entered pilot training with the U.S. Air Force. He began his flight training at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and then moved on to Hondo and Big Springs Air Force Bases. Training was conducted in the Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star.

During the Korean War, Lieutenant Day flew the Republic F-84G Thunderjet fighter-bomber with the 559th Fighter-Escort Squadron (redesignated the 559th Strategic Fighter Squadron in 1953) based at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas. The squadron’s mission was to provide fighter escort for the Strategic Air Command’s Convair B-36 intercontinental bombers. Day was promoted to Captain in February 1953, and was temporarily assigned to Chitose Air Base, on the island of Hokkaido, Japan.

While stationed with the 55th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing, at RAF Weathersfield, England, on 11 June 1957 Captain Day was flying a training mission in a Republic F-84F-45-RE Thunderstreak, serial number 52-6724. The fighter’s Wright J65 turbojet engine exploded at about 500 feet (152 meters). He ejected but as his parachute failed to open. Day survived by penetrating a pine forest, and decelerating through a 30 foot (9 meters) tree. The wing transitioned to the North American Aviation F-100 Super Sabre shortly after this incident.

Captain Day in the cockpit of a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, circa 1956. (U.S. Air Force)

Major Day was assigned commander of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C) unit at St. Louis University and was an assistant professor of aerospace science. While there, in 1964, Major Day earned a master of arts degree.

Volunteering for duty in Southeast Asia, in April 1967, Major Day was assigned to the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, at Tuy-Hoa Air Base, Republic of South Vietnam.

Major Day was then assigned as the first commander of an experimental forward air controller unit (“Commando Sabre”): Detachment 1, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Phù Cát Air Base. The new forward air controller unit had four aircraft and 16 pilots. The pilots flew using the call sign, “Misty.” (According to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Major Day was a fan of Johnny Mathis’ 1959 record, “Misty.”)

A North American Aviation F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre, 56-3882, of the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, at Phù Cát Air Base, circa 1967. (U.S. Air Force)

On his 26th Commando Sabre mission, Easter Sunday, 26 March1967, Major Day was flying as the Forward Air Controller (“FAC”) in the back seat of a North American Aviation F-100F Super Sabre, serial number 56-3954. The pilot was Captain Corwin M. Kippenhan.

Day and Kippenhan were supporting Republic F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers on an attack against an enemy surface-to-air missile battery near Thon Cam Son, north of the Demilitarized Zone (“the DMZ”) in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Their Super Sabre was hit by 37 millimeter antiaircraft fire, and the two men were forced to eject.

Captain Kippenham was rescued by “Jolly Green 28,” a Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, serial number 66-13281, from the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron based at Da Nang, South Vietnam. The rescue helicopter was damaged and driven off by enemy 57 millimeter gunfire. The pilot, Captain Charles Raymond Dunn, was awarded the Silver Star (his second). The copilot, Captain Walter R. Blackwell, flight engineer, Frederic M. Halbert, and pararescueman (“PJ”) Joseph M. Duffy, were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. An AP press photographer, Johnny Griffith, was also aboard the HH-3E during the rescue.

Jolly Green 28 could not make contact with Major Day. Day was seriously injured following the ejection. His right arm was broken and his left knee was dislocated. He was captured by the enemy. Five days later, he escaped. Over a 10 day period he made his way, bare-footed, more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) across the DMZ into South Vietnam. He was discovered by Viet Cong guerillas and was shot, with wounds to his left thigh and left hand.

Major Day suffered the most brutal conditions while he was held as a Prisoner of War. He was imprisoned for 2,028 days, before being released 14 March 1973. During his imprisonment, the Air Force promoted him to lieutenant colonel, and then colonel.

Colonel Day is reunited with his wife, Doris Sorenson Day, at March Air Force Base, Riverside, California, 17 March 1973. (New York Post)

Explaining how he was able to withstand the years of torture, isolation, poor nutrition and lack of medical care, Colonel Day said,

“I am, and have been all my life, a loyal American. I have faith in my country, and am secure in the knowledge that my country is a good nation, responsible to the people of the United States and responsible to the world community of nations. I believed in my wife and children and rested secure in the knowledge that they backed both me and my country. I believe in God and that he will guide me and my country in paths of honorable conduct. I believe in the Code of Conduct of the U.S. fighting man. I believe the most important thing in my life was to return from North Vietnam with honor, not just to return. If I could not return with my honor, I did not care to return at all. I believe that in being loyal to my country that my country will be loyal to me. My support of our noble objectives will make the world a better place in which to live.”

Colonel George Everette Day, United States Air Force, quoted by The Super Sabre Society.

After his return to the United States, Colonel Day spent a year trying to recover from his injuries and poor health. He then returned to flight status, transitioned to the McDonnell F-4E Phantom II at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, and was appointed vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

In a presentation at the White House, 4 March 1976, Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States, presented the Medal of Honor to Rear Admiral James B. Stockdale, United States Navy, who had been to most senior American officer held by North Vietnam, and to Colonel Day.

President Gerald R. Ford presents the Medal of Honor to Rear Admiral James B. Stockdale, USN. On the right is Colonel Day.

Colonel Day retired from the United States Air Force in February 1977. He then practiced law in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He is the author of two books, Return With Honor and Duty, Honor, Country.

Colonel Day was rated a Command Pilot with over 8,000 flight hours.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, during his military career, Colonel Day was awarded the Air Force Cross; the Distinguished Service Medal; the Silver Star; the Legion of Merit; the Bronze Star with “V” device and three oak leaf clusters (three awards for valor); the Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters (four awards); the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; the Air Medal with one silver and four bronze oak leaf clusters (nine awards); Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters (three awards); Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with “V” device and three oak leaf clusters (three awards for valor); Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star (Korean War and Vietnam War); Korean Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with two silver and three bronze campaign stars (all 18 campaigns); Air Force Longevity Awards with four oak leaf clusters (20 years); Armed Forces Reserve Medal; Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon; National Order of Vietnam, Knight; United Nations Service Medal; Anh Dũng Bội Tinh (Vietnam Gallantry Cross) with palm (the highest of four levels); Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation; Chiến Dịch Bội Tinh (Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal); and the Vietnam Master Parachutist Badge.

According to the Air Mobility Command Museum, Colonel Day “is the second-most decorated military member in American history, General Douglas MacArthur being first.”

Colonel George Everette Day, United States Air Force (Retired), died at his home in Shalimar, Florida, 27 July 2013, at the age of 88 years. He is buried at the Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola, Florida.

In the Defense Authorization Act of 2017, Colonel Day was advanced to the rank of Brigadier General, United States Air Force (Retired).

George Everette Day, an American Hero. (Sioux City Journal)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 August 1967

Colonel Robert M. White, United States Air Force, Deputy Commander for Operations, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli RTAFB, 1967, with other Republic F-105 Thunderchief pilots. Colonel White is the third from the left. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Robert M. White, United States Air Force, Deputy Commander for Operations, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli RTAFB, 1967, with other Republic F-105 Thunderchief pilots. Colonel White is the third from the left. (Left to right) Robert Lindsay, Nelson McDonald, Robert M. White , Malcolm Winter, John Piowaty. (U.S. Air Force)
Air Force Cross
Air Force Cross

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Colonel Robert M. White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105 Mission Commander and Pilot of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 11 August 1967. On that date, Colonel White led the entire combat force against a key railroad and highway bridge in the vicinity of Hanoi. In spite of 14 surface-to-air missile launches, MiG interceptor attacks, and intense anti-aircraft artillery fire, he gallantly led the attack. By being the first aircraft to dive through the dark clouds of bursting flak, Colonel White set an example that inspired the remaining attacking force to destroy the bridge without a single aircraft being lost to the hostile gunners. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Colonel White reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Action Date: 11-Aug-67

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Company: Deputy Commander for Operations

Regiment: 355th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Republic F-105F-10-RE Thunderchief 60-0464, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli RTAFB. (U.S. Air Force)
Republic F-105D-10-RE Thunderchief 60-0464, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli RTAFB. (U.S. Air Force)
Recoonaissance photograph of Paul Doumer Bridge, Hanoi, 12 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)
Reconnaissance photograph of Paul Doumer Bridge, Hanoi, 12 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)
Doumer Bridge, by keith ferris, oil on panel, depicts Col. Robert M. White leading the strike against the Paul Doumer Bridge, 11 August 1967. This painting is on display at teh george H.W. Bush presidential Library, on loan from the United States Air Force art collection.
Doumer Bridge, by Keith Ferris, oil on panel, depicts Col. Robert M. White leading the strike against the Paul Doumer Bridge, 11 August 1967. This painting is in the United States Air Force Art Collection. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 August 1967

Colonel Robin Olds, United States Air Force, winc Commander, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Ratchitani RTAFB.
Colonel Robin Olds, United States Air Force, Wing Commander, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon-Rachitani RTAFB.
Air Force Cross
Air Force Cross

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Colonel Robin Olds (AFSN: 0-26046), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as Strike Mission Commander in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, against the Paul Doumer Bridge, a major north-south transportation link on Hanoi’s Red River in North Vietnam, on 11 August 1967. On that date, Colonel Olds led his strike force of eight F-4C aircraft against a key railroad and highway bridge in North Vietnam. Despite intense, accurately directed fire, multiple surface-to-air missile attacks on his force, and continuous harassment by MiG fighters defending the target, Colonel Olds, with undaunted determination, indomitable courage, and professional skill, led his force through to help destroy this significant bridge. As a result the flow of war materials into this area was appreciably reduced. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Colonel Olds reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Action Date: 11-Aug-67

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Regiment: 8th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Ubon-Rachitani Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

brigadier general Robin Olds' McDonnell F-4C-24-MC Phantom II, SCAT XXVII, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)
Brigadier General Robin Olds’ McDonnell F-4C-24-MC Phantom II 64-0829, SCAT XXVII, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 August 1967

Republic F-105D Thunderchief at Takhli TRAFB. (U.S. Air Force)
Republic F-105D Thunderchief at Takhli RTAFB. This is the type aircraft flown by LCOL Schurr against the Paul Doumer Bridge, 11 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel Harry W. Schurr, United States Air Force
Colonel Harry W. Schurr, United States Air Force

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Lieutenant Colonel Harry W. Schurr (AFSN: 0-41901), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as commander of a strike force of twenty F-105 Thunderchiefs of the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action against a heavily defended target in North Vietnam on 11 August 1967. On that date, though intense, accurately directed hostile fire had damaged his aircraft prior to reaching the target, Colonel Schurr, with undaunted determination, indomitable courage, and professional skill, led the strike in a devastating attack against a key railroad and highway bridge. One span was destroyed and others heavily damaged. As a result, the flow of war materials into this area was appreciably reduced. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the hostile force, Colonel Schurr has reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Air Force Cross
Air Force Cross

General Orders: Department of the Air Force, Special Order GB-427 (November 30, 1967)

Action Date: 11-Aug-67

Service: Air Force

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Regiment: 388th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Recoonaissance photograph of Paul Doumer Bridge, Hanoi, 12 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)
Reconnaissance photograph of Paul Doumer Bridge, Hanoi, 12 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 August 1967

Republic F-105-1-RE Thunderchief 63-8311, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat RTAFB. (U.S. Air Force)
Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief 63-8311, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat RTAFB. This is the type aircraft flown by LCOL McInerney and CAPT Shannon, 11 August 1967. (U.S. Air Force)
Colonel James Eugene McInerney, Jr., United States Air Force.
Colonel James Eugene McInerney, Jr., United States Air Force.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Lieutenant Colonel James Eugene McInerney, Jr., (AFSN: 0-23452), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as Pilot of an F-105 airplane in the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, 7th Air Force, in action as Leader of a flak suppression flight in action against the Paul Doumer Bridge, a major north-south transportation link on Hanoi’s Red River in North Vietnam, on 11 August 1967. On that date, Colonel McInerney suppressed six active surface-to-air missile sites defending a strategic highway and railroad bridge. Despite concentrated barrages of anti-aircraft fire and three missiles directed against his flight, Colonel McInerney displayed the highest degree of courageous leadership in destroying two missile sites and forcing the other four into sporadic operation. As a direct result of his actions, the strike force suffered no losses and imposed extensive damage to this vital target. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Lieutenant Colonel McInerney reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Air Force Cross
Air Force Cross

General Orders: Department of the Air Force, Special Order GB-123 (March 27, 1968)

Action Date: August 11, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Regiment: 388th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

 

Major Fred Shannon, United States Air Force
Major Fred Shannon, United States Air Force

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Captain Fred Shannon (AFSN: 0-3100995), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105 Electronics Warfare Officer of the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action in the lead aircraft of a flak suppression flight near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 11 August 1967. On that date, Captain Shannon suppressed six active surface-to-air missile sites defending a strategic highway and railroad bridge. Despite concentrated barrages of anti-aircraft fire and three missiles directed against his flight, Captain Shannon displayed the highest degree of courageous leadership in destroying two missile sites and in forcing the other four into sporadic operation. As a direct result of his actions, the strike force suffered no losses and imposed extensive damage on this vital target. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Shannon reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Air Force Cross
Air Force Cross

General Orders: Department of the Air Force, Special Order GB-123 (March 27, 1968)

Action Date: 11-Aug-67

Service: Air Force

Rank: Captain

Company: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Regiment: 388th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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