Saturday, April 26, 2008

Something clicked

Something clicked today. Remember during the last American Presidential election and the "Swift Boats Vets" ads on TV? I downloaded one of those ads a couple of years ago. It is a powerful ad, panning across a bunch of men who are middle aged and older. The script tells us that these men were not war criminals (as John Kerry would have alleged) but are community leaders, business men, pastors, fathers and grandfathers. What struck me about the ad was when it panned across one older gentleman. He wasn't tall of stature, but if you looked closely you could see around his neck a blue ribbon with some tiny white stars. The Medal of Honor. It's one of those medals that you usually don't get to wear, though by tradition your next of kin does get to wear (because most men who win it do not survive their heroics). Also by tradition, when a man is wearing the Medal of Honor, he receives salutes from General Officers rather than giving the salute, even if the Medal winner is a lowly private. It's that kind of medal, and one of the men in the ad was wearing it. Today I found out who that man was.

Colonel George "Bud" Day enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during World War Two. Though he was only 17 years of age, and though he was only 116 pounds, he convinced the Marines to take him. He became a Marine Corps aviator. Then he became a jet pilot, and fought in Korea. And then Vietnam. His specialty was as a "Wild Weasel", encouraging SAM batteries to fire at him, evading the missile and then attacking the SAM battery. It was the most dangerous job that any pilot could have. And on his 67th mission he was shot down over Vietnam. For 3 weeks he evaded the NV Army and walked south. And then with freedom almost in view he was captured. He spent 5 years as a POW in the "Hanoi Hilton", one of the most notorious prison camps. Despite repeated torture he became a leader among the prisoners. And finally, after the war was over he was released, thinner, but not broken. Upon coming home he must have heard about John Kerry. And it's not too hard to imagine that he was disgusted by Kerry's "testimony". And so when Kerry ran for the highest office in America, it was payback time.

Yes, a very powerful ad. The ad didn't identify Bud Day, but the Medal spoke volumes. And those who do know the whole story know the ad was even more powerful than they first realized.


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