When Air Force Maj. Roy Knight, Jr., left Dallas for Vietnam 52 years ago, his 5-year-old son, Bryan, came to Dallas Love Field to see him off. On Thursday, Bryan, now a captain for Southwest Airlines, brought back his father’s remains aboard a flight to the same Dallas airport.
Knight, born in Garner, Texas, was 36 when he was shot down while attacking a target on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos on May 19,1967, according to White’s Funeral Home in Weatherford, Texas.
Jackson Proskow, Washington bureau chief for Canada’s Global News, was on a layover from El Paso to Washington on Thursday when he witnessed the moving ceremony at the airport. Proskow watched as the flag-draped casket was delivered into the arms of a military honor guard.
In a series of tweets, Proskow reported that the Dallas Love Field terminal came to a standstill.
“Incredible moment to watch,” Proskow wrote. “The entire airport fell silent.”
In 1967, Knight was leading a flight of two aircraft on a strike mission when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, according to the Defense POW/MIA Account Agency.
“No parachute was observed prior to the aircraft crashing and bursting into flames,” the agency says. “Additionally, no beeper signals were heard. While search and rescue efforts were initiated, an organized search could not be conducted due to intensity of hostile ground fire in the area.”
Knight, officially listed as MIA, was declared deceased in September 1974, when his son, Bryan was just 12.
In 1991 and 1992, almost 20 years after the end of the Vietnam war, joint U.S.-Laos teams investigated a crash site allegedly associated with Knight’s loss, recommending it for excavation. From 1994, the site was examined five times.
In early 2019, a joint team recovered possible human remains and life support items that led to the identification of Knight’s remains.
On Thursday, at the airport, hundreds of crew members, onlookers, friends, and military personnel, gathered on the tarmac, according to a livestream by WFAA on its Facebook page. Some brushed away tears, many had their hand over their heart.
Two fire trucks sprayed an arc of water over the Southwest airlines plane, which brought the remains home on the last leg from Oakland, as it rolled slowly to the terminal.
Proskow said the story Knight, who was subsequently promoted to colonel, and his son, Bryan, who also served in the Air Force, was announced over the airport intercom as the moving scene unfolded.
“The gate agent was very emotional as he told the story over the PA,” Proskow wrote. “They handed out American flags to everyone at the gate.”
There are 1,588 department of defense personnel still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, according to DPAA.
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