Bud Day honored with walking path in Panhandle

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FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A Florida Panhandle community is honoring the late Medal of Honor recipient Bud Day with a memorial walking path.

Fort Walton Beach held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for the Bud and Dorie Day Patriots’ Trail.

Day’s widow is recovering from surgery. The Northwest Florida Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1hOkvLF ) that her sons attended the ceremony and praised the community for its support of military veterans and active-duty service members.

“We’re so grateful for how you’ve stood up for the men and women who have served this great country,” George Day said, standing near a photo of his father. “We are so proud to call this home.”

Day died in July at the age of 88. He spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in Vietnam and was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s cellmate. He was one of the nation’s most highly decorated servicemen since Gen. Douglas MacArthur and later a tireless advocate for veterans’ rights.

Day received the Medal of Honor for escaping his captors for 10 days after the aircraft he was piloting was shot down over North Vietnam. In all, he earned more than 70 medals during service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

He was an enlisted Marine serving in the Pacific during World War II and an Air Force pilot in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Day retired to the Florida Panhandle in 1977 and practiced law, becoming a crusader for veterans’ health care benefits.

The city provided the land for the half-mile walking trail, and the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 for its construction.

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Information from: Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.), http://www.nwfdailynews.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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