Colonel Peter T. Wangler’s Veteran Story – Duty, Honor, Country – Medal of Honor Recipient Discussion
During Colonel Peter T. “Wang-Dango” Wangler’s and my 2015 interview about SO many different topics, the discussion mainly centered on Duty and Service before Self. We also talked about the Humility of Medal of Honor (our Nation’s highest Military honor or medal) recipients.
In my past, I’ve been fortunate and blessed to spend time with two recipients of “The Medal” – The first was Colonel Bernard “Bernie” Francis Fisher who saved his fellow Airman whose plane (A-1) was forced down on an abandoned airfield in “BadGuy” country in Vietnam…
Bernie (I’m NOT tall and Bernie was “Perfect Fighter Pilot” size or basically shorter than me at about 5′ 6″ or so) told me at a Kadena Air Base, Okinawa bar one night while getting ready to speak to us at our 1 Special Operations Squadron’s Dining Out: –
“What else was I gonna do ‘Brain’?…My buddy was down there getting surrounded, so I just landed, picked him up, let him climb up on my lap (MAN was he glad to see me!) and we RTB-ed (Returned To Base)….later someone said they put me in for ‘some medal’ and they gave me this thing (he pointed to “THE Medal” he was wearing around his neck along with the hip Vietnam-era Leopard skin Tuxedo coat he had on ;>)”
“Ah Colonel…I think they need you up at the podium now Sir,” I motioned to him.
“Oh yeah – I probably should go now ‘Brain’ – yet it’s always good having a drink or two with one of the ‘true blues’ – cya around kid…” then he was off to give his speech to the waiting audience, however it wasn’t as good as the impromptu “speech” he gave me over a drink or two between two Aviators passing stories at a bar…just saying – and EVERYbody back at my table & at the 1st Special Ops Squadron squadron was asking what he told me – now we all know “the rest of the story…” ;>)
Bernie was a cool Dude and SO down to earth!!! I am SO glad I took the initiative to go introduce myself and offer to buy him a “drink or 12”…he liked that comment (just saying).
In doing research for this story I saw he “Flew West” on August 16, 2014 and was officially the first U.S. Air Force member to receive “The Medal” in Vietnam.
For more on the “official” Bernard Francis Fisher story go to: Wikipedia or some other fancy-smancy web site…
Another real living legend and Medal of Honor recipient I met before he “Flew West” was Colonel George “Bud” Day. Below is what I wrote about re: my mid-2013 meeting with Colonel Day in my first book, “Life Short – Fly Now!”.
Though I am a journalist, and I did ask some “journalist-type” questions, our meeting was more like a little kid (me) in complete awe of an amazing living legend before he was getting close to leaving this world, though he had denied “The Angel of Death” so many times before…I even thought he might be around for a few more decades by the fortitude he displayed that day – Colonel George “Bud” Day was truly an inspirational person and bigger than life itself.
It was a true honor to be there and discuss the things we did that Day. Thank you again Mrs. Doris “The Viking” Day for allowing the time with your dear husband towards the end of an amazing Life!
Excerpt from Life Short, Fly Now!™ By Brian Kissinger
“Chapter 12 – What a Day!”
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in
presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel [then Major] George Everett “Bud” Day (AFSN: 0
49555), United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty a Pilot of Misty Super FAC’s F-100 Squadron, held as a Prisoner
of War in North Vietnam. On 26 August 1967, Colonel Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over
North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in three 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,
Colonel 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, Colonel 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, Colonel 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. Colonel
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 United States Armed Forces.
General Orders: GB-180, March 22, 1976
“Something had to be done and SOMEONE had to do it Brian!” the amazingly small frame
yet BIGGER THAN LIFE man tells me from across his desk. I can tell he is a VERY strong and
determined man for his size and as a younger man likely got into a few tussles, yet also avoided many
with just a glance of those Steely Blue eyes and stern voice that is still sharp today despite his recent
Please see Colonel Bud Day’s Wikipedia page for more info on this incredible Legend…far different from the seemingly sometimes “21st Century “Look at Me!!! – Hey Look at Me!!! Type” – Colonel Day was a true, humble, legend who was the highest decorated warrior of ALL services and lived through almost 6 years in the “Hanoi Hilton” where he took care of John McCain, yet also a Fighter Jet ejection where his parachute failed to open – Bud Day was simply invincible!!! That was until about a month or so after we met and his energy finally, and sadly, dissipated like it will in all of us one day on earth…
Yet he gave me – AND YOU – one last gift before he left this limited world and that’s to never, never, NEVER give up!!!
In ending, if you get a chance to meet one of the 76 still living recipients of our Country’s highest honor, I highly recommend that you do…and you will likely be humbled by their humility.
p.s. The last thing Colonel Bud Day told me before his secretary snapped a picture of him, his wife Doris “The Viking” Day, & me was that, “Now my story is yours ‘Brain’…” – I held back tears as a good Air Commando is expected to – and now his story is yours…and the World’s – for eternity.
Observing & Reporting for NN News!
– Brian K. Kissinger