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Life Lessons from a Goodfellow legend

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Growing up the son of an F-4 Phantom II fighter pilot, I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about legendary fighter pilots and their heroics. Even today, I get regular updates on warriors like Texas legend Oliver "Ollie" Crawford, flying his shark-tooth painted, Commemorative Air Force P-40 Warhawk form air show to air show. But it wasn't until I heard "Doc" Garrett mention Goodfellow's legend, Col. "Bud" Day, in a meeting that I decided to comment on a family friend.

I recall my father talking about his friend and colleague flying Forward Air Control missions supporting F-4 Phantom IIs in the Vietnam War. My father's stories helped shape my love of airplanes and the Air Force, but the truth is I didn't truly appreciate these legendary leaders until I joined the Air Force and began to realize their sacrifice. Through his Medal of Honor winning actions, Day offers life lessons that apply as much today as they did during the Vietnam War. Through true courage and a positive attitude, we can all learn to be better Airmen.

Courage - Imagine the courage it must have taken Day to escape enemy capture with severe arm, back, and eye injuries after ejecting out of his shrapnel-ridden F-100. Article 3 of the Code of Conduct guides us to show such courage, "If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape." Evading capture for 12 days without even boots on his feet, Day was rolled up again by a Viet Cong patrol and sent back to his Vietnamese Prisoner of War camp. As Airmen, we have volunteered to serve our country and fight for freedom, and while we all hope and pray to never be POWs, we can learn a lesson from Day that applies to every aspect of life. It takes true courage to fight for what is right and just, in our everyday lives and jobs, and especially when the situation is difficult or contentious.

The power of a positive attitude - I am a strong believer that in the toughest of times, optimism and a positive attitude can help me succeed. How does someone survive being tortured for almost six years as a POW and not lose his positive outlook on life? Day did so with a strong faith in God, and a never-ending belief that his country and his family would fight for his release. With the power of a positive attitude, he showed personal bravery that allowed him to lead hundreds of POWs to survive the Hanoi Hilton in the face of deadly enemy pressure. If the power of a positive attitude can help a man survive torture in a POW camp, it can certainly help me survive the issues I face on a daily basis.

Day continues to live a courageous life, using a keen wit and unwavering optimism to deal with today's challenges. When you get a few minutes, stop by the Valor Inn and read a little more about "Bud" Day, or pick up a copy of his book, Duty, Honor, Country to learn even more about one of our country's national treasures.