Heros welcome for deceased Vietnam War veteran


Col Knight is carried off the plane in DallasImage copyright
Twitter/Jackson Proskow

Image caption

Col Knight is carried off the plane in Dallas

Hundreds of passengers in a Dallas airport took a moment out of their travels to witness the return of a fallen Vietnam War veteran.

Col Roy Knight Jr had last seen his family at this same airport 52 years before, when they came to say goodbye before he went to war.

The pilot who flew Col Knight’s remains home was his son, Bryan, who had last seen his father on that day at age 5.

Col Knight flew combat missions almost daily until he was shot down in 1967.

His remains were not recovered until more than five decades later. Col Knight was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and six Air Medals for his actions during the war.

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Twitter/Jackson Proskow

Image caption

Passengers crowded to watch the plane arrive

On Thursday, his flight home to Dallas aboard a Southwest Airline flight inspired an impromptu moment of silence in the terminal.

“It was a very moving moment,” said Dallas Love Field airport spokesman Chris Perry.

Mr Perry said he had seen veterans remains flown home before but the response to Mr Knight was “especially unique”, prompting an unusually large reception.

Global News reporter Jackson Proskow detailed the plane’s arrival to Dallas Love Field airport, and called witnessing Col Knight’s arrival a “privilege”.

Pictures show passengers crowding around the terminal windows, noses pressed up to the glass to watch Col Knight arrive. Employees of Southwest Airlines handed out American flags to everyone at the gate.

“Incredible moment to watch. The entire airport fell silent,” Mr Proskow wrote.

Mr Proskow’s tweets generated more than 18 thousand retweets and 40 thousand likes.

Many commented on the “beautiful” celebration for Col Knight.

And several noted his return presented a rare moment of unity in the US, following a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio this week that have shaken the country.

“I think these types of events always bring people together which is always special to see,” Mr Perry said.

Col Knight was born in Garner, Texas in February 1931. He joined the US Air Force just days after his 17th birthday, following five older brothers who all served in World War Two.

He was accepted for pilot training in 1957, going on to serve in Germany and France as a fighter pilot. His son Bryan, who flew his father home on Thursday, was born in France during this period, while his father was stationed in Toul-Rosieres.

In 1967, Col Knight received orders to serve in Southeast Asia and reported to the 602nd Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. From there he flew combat missions until being shot down while attacking a target on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

Image copyright
Twitter/Jackson Proskow

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Airport officials standby as Col Knight arrives

He was initially declared Missing in Action until being declared Killed in Action seven years later. During that time, he was promoted to Colonel.

Col Knight’s funeral will be held this weekend, with full military honours.

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