Air Force Col. Roy A. Knight Jr. was finally brought home on a flight piloted by his son, 52 years after Knight left for the Vietnam War.
On Thursday, Dallas Love Field Airport fell quiet as a Southwest Airlines plane piloted by Capt. Bryan Knight brought the veteran’s body back to Texas. The last time his son had seen him was when they waved goodbye at the same airport in January 1967.
Roy Knight, who flew combat missions nearly every day before being shot down in May 1967, was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and six Air Medals.
In 1974, he was officially declared killed in action, but his body wasn’t recovered until February 2019, when his remains were identified in Laos.
Travelers flocked to the airport windows on Thursday to watch the scene unfold, standing solemnly as Knight’s casket, draped in an American flag, was carried off the plane.
“At the end of the war, I remember as a kid watching every single POW come off those airplanes — and I watched every one of them,” Capt. Knight said in a video shared by Southwest Airlines. “Your job and your duty as a family and as a child is to have hope.”
“When I first got the call, it was almost surreal because I really didn’t think it would ever happen,” the pilot said. “Wow, he’s really coming home.”