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April 16, 2011

A Hero Returns To The Skies [Andy]

There's a nonprofit located near where I live called The Collings Foundation. Being located in Massachusetts, you'd think it would be dedicated to saving the planet from teh evil CO2, exposing the savagery of Paul Ryan's "extreme" budget or some other lefty cause. Nothing could be further from the truth:

Mission & Purpose

The purpose of the Collings Foundation is to organize and support “living history” events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. The original focus of the Foundation was transportation-related events such as antique car rallies, hill climbs, carriage and sleigh rides, along with a winter ice-cutting festival in Stow, MA areas. During the mid-eighties, these activities were broadened to include aviation-related events such as air shows, barnstorming, historical reunions, Wings of Freedom Tour, Vietnam Memorial Flights, joint museum displays and living history events.

Left unsaid in that mission statement is the fact that Collings has one of the largest private collections of vintage airworthy military aircraft in the world, including the only B-24J Liberator still flying

A couple of weeks ago, a ceremony was held to christen their latest addition to the fleet, and she returned to the skies carrying a very special passenger.


Bud Day's flights in the F-100 weren't always so uneventful. Especially the one that won him the Congressional Medal of Honor.

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.

Not much you can add to that but a great big "Thank You!" to Col. Day. And bravo to Bob Collings and his foundation not only for commemorating Col. Day's service with their restored F-100 but also for taking the man up for a ride. I hope he got a little stick time.

I've been to the Collings hangar/museum and it's just astounding. They have a little bit of everything, from stagecoaches to tractors to Indy cars to a TBM that looks like it just rolled out of the factory (and, yes, it flies)

The Collings planes just hit the 2011 airshow circuit. Readers of a certain Smart Military Blog™ might like to go see 'em.

[Update:] Since it looks like this thread may hang around the top of the blog for a while today, consider it an open thread in the comments (although the on-topic ones have been great).

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:00 AM

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