On Thursday, everyone at a terminal at the Dallas airport witnessed something extraordinary: the remains of an American pilot who was shot down in 1967 were finally brought home — and the pilot of the plane carrying the remains was his son, who was only five years old when his father was shot down.
Jackson Proskow, the Washington Bureau Chief for Canada’s Global News and Globe National, chronicled the moment on Twitter:
I’m at the airport in Dallas, waiting for my flight home to DC from El Paso, and something incredible is happening. Our incoming plane is carrying the remains of an American pilot shot down over Vietnam in 1967. His remains were only recently recovered and identified and brought back to the U.S. As we wait at the gate, we’re told that Captain Knight is coming home to Dallas. When he left from this very airport to fight in Vietnam his 5 year old son came to the airfield and waved goodbye. It was the last time he would see his father alive.
Today the pilot of the plane bringing Capt. Knight back to Dallas is his son.
The entire terminal has come to watch this arrival.
What a privilege it was to witness this moment. For those asking, they announced it over the intercom. The gate agent was very emotional as he told the story over the PA. They handed out American flags to everyone at the gate.
Proskow concluded, “On May 19, 1967, Maj. Roy A. Knight, Jr., USAF, was shot down while attacking a target on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. He was initially listed as Missing in Action until being declared Killed in Action in 1974. During that time, he was promoted to Colonel. Fifty-two years later, in February, 2019, Col. Knight’s remains were recovered and identified by personnel assigned to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.”
As legacy.com wrote in their obituary for Toy Knight:
Roy Abner Knight, Jr., was born in Garner, TX on February 1, 1931 … enlisted in the United States Air Force days after his 17th birthday, following his five older brothers who all served in WWII. He served as a clerk typist in the Philippines, Japan and Korea before attending Officer Candidate School in 1953 … He subsequently served in Germany and France as a fighter pilot, flying the F-86D … In January 1966, he completed his bachelor’s degree through Operation Bootstrap at the University of Omaha. That year he received orders for Southeast Asia and reported to the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in January 1967. He flew combat missions almost daily until being shot down May 19, 1967. He was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and six Air Medals for his actions during this time.
The love of Roy’s life, Patricia, passed away in 2008. His parents both passed away within three years of his shootdown, while the war still raged, never knowing his fate.
Col. Roy A. Knight, Jr., will be coming home to Texas with a Dignified Arrival on August 8, 2019. He will be flown home by his son, Bryan, a Captain with Southwest Airlines, to Dallas Love Field, the same airport where 5-year-old Bryan said goodbye to his father when he left to go to war fifty-two years ago.