Senator John McCain, who endured years of torture at North Vietnam’s infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison, paid tribute to his former cellmate and commanding officer, retired Col. George E. “Bud” Day, on the Senate floor Monday. Day, 88, died Saturday.
McCain credited Day, a “tough old bird,” for saving his life after his plane was shot down while on a bombing mission in 1967.
“Bud and [fellow cellmate Major] Norris [Overly] wouldn’t let me die,” McCain said on the Senate floor.
“For some reason, I could never imagine Bud yielding to anything, even, I thought, to the laws of nature,” McCain said.
“To witness him sing the national anthem in response to having a rifle pointed at his face–well, that was something to behold. Unforgettable,” McCain said.
Day, a Medal of Honor recipient, is the only known American to escape from North Vietnam into South Vietnam–although he was recaptured by the Viet Cong and endured more than five years imprisonment before being released in 1973.
Watch McCain’s emotional tribute to Day below: