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American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day Hardcover – May 3, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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From Booklist

Coram's superb biography of the most decorated living American veteran begins with Bud Day's Great Plains childhood and takes him through joining the air force, marrying his high-school sweetheart, and flying ever-more-demanding missions in Vietnam. After his luck ran out, he escaped from the first POW camp in which he was interned but was recaptured and endured five years of torture in a second. Retiring with the Medal of Honor, he returned to public life a generation later, launching breach-of-contract suits against the Clinton administration for what he perceived as its bad faith in dealing with Vietnam veterans. Although partially disabled and an ongoing sufferer from PTSD, Day remains active in veterans' affairs and Republican politics. Coram's motives for writing the book--see the preface--may raise some eyebrows, but as he did for his previous fighter-pilot biography, Boyd (2002), he has researched thoroughly and written fluently and with sympathy for his subject, an authentic hero worthy of many books. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


'Superb...Coram has researched thoroughly and written fluently and with sympathy for his subject, an authentic hero' - BOOKLIST 'Riveting...A poignant and ultimately inspiring portrait...Day's military service tale is wide, varied, fraught with drama and jaw-dropping episodes' - AMERICAN SPECTATOR

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (May 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316758477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316758475
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard A. Stratton on May 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Where do we get such men?"

RAdm George Tarrant, "The Bridges of Toko-ri", James Michener

"When the shooting starts, they call for the sons of bitches."

Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King USN

"He is one of those people for whom everything is either black or white. It is wonderful to go through life like that."

Senator John S. McCain III

This is a story of where we get such men, what happens when the shooting starts and of a life lived in black & white - pure and simple. This is an odyssey of a Sioux City "River Rat" who became a Red River Valley "River Rat". This is a saga of a man who could have been, and might even now be, your neighbor - a fellow American.

There are some folks who are natural aviators, natural fighter pilots and natural warriors. Those of us who have been in recruiting know how difficult it is to identify such "naturals". Our psychologists, our educators, our training "experts" and our consultants all claim to have the answer and they repeatedly come up empty. The ones who come closest are the experienced Marine Drill Instructors, they know a warrior when they see one but even they find it difficult to codify it. George "Bud" Day is a natural - aviator and warrior.

The Marine Corps missed it, only because Bud spend so much time in sick bays that he never had a chance to bloom. The Army National Guard never had a chance. The Air Force never seemed to get the word despite repeated superb performance in a myriad of flying and non flying tasks from the beginning to the end of his Air Force career.

Using dedication to duty and perseverance he survived an endless progression of dead end assignments turning career ending bovine residue into promotion enhancing events.
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Format: Hardcover
George "Bud" Day is the most decorated officer in the modern history of the U.S. military, having won (this is a chest seriously full of medals and ribbons) the Medal of Honor, Air Force Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal for Valor with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal for Merit, Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with nine Oak Leaf Clusters, National Order of Vietnam, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Prisoner of War Medal). His military career began in 1942 when, despite being under-sized and under-age, he managed to work his way into the U.S. Marines. He served for almost three years in the South Pacific, never seeing combat. After the war he returned home and studied law, eventually graduating with a degree in that discipline. In 1950 he joined the National Guard and, when called up a year later, applied to fly fighter jets. He soon became one of America's most skilled pilots and, after being promoted, decided to dedicate his career to the Air Force.

In 1967, with the war in Vietnam raging, he was made commander of a secret squadron of F-100 jets and was tasked with Forward Air Control. It was the job of this select group of pilots to fly low to the ground and to seek out and mark targets that other jets could destroy. On August 26 of 1967, his plane was shot down and he suffered serious injuries while ejecting. He was quickly captured but escaped at the first opportunity available and became the only soldier to journey all the way to South Vietnam. Sadly, just moments from reaching the safety of American lines, he was spotted by a North Vietnamese patrol and shot in the leg and hand.
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Format: Hardcover
SUGGESTION -- Be sure to set aside a block of time to devote to AMERICAN PATRIOT: THE LIFE AND WARS OF COLONEL BUD DAY. The force of Bud Day's character and the flowing clarity of Robert Coram's writing will rivet you. In the process, America's moral strength sharpened by the Great Depression and by WWII set the stage for Bud's moral triumph over his vicious North Vietnamese communist torturers for over five and a half years. Each fierce lash of the "fan belt" on Bud's bloodied backside and legs strengthened his will to defeat the murderous goons. Each minute of the rope torture and each re-breaking of his bones reinforced his understanding and practice of the military Code of Conduct for POWs.

It is difficult for those not connected with the military, especially with the patriotism of WWII warriors, to understand not only how but why Bud suffered and persevered as he did for his fellow POWs and to preserve the secrets of his former "Misty" F-100 fighter unit. The sense of the matter presents itself through the clearly packaged facts and pace of the biography and Coram's craft in bringing alive each element of Bud's development as an individual and as a military "community" leader whose service spanned three major wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam as an enlisted Marine, Army reservist, Iowa National Guard Officer and Air Force Officer.

Our Founding Fathers knew the exceptional nature of that community and enshrined that understanding in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution by declaring Congress prescribes the rules governing that society of warriors. As a rare fighter pilot lawyer, Bud knew and practiced the legal and social bonds of the warrior brotherhood.
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