Son Flies Dad’s Remains Home 52 Years After War Vet Declared Dead: 'Entire Airport Fell Silent'
Bryan Knight returned his father's remains to the same Texas airport where they said their goodbyes decades earlier
Fifty-two years after his father was declared dead during the Vietnam War, a son is finally getting a chance to pay his last respects.
After learning earlier this year that the remains of his father, Air Force Col. Roy A. Knight Jr., had been found, Bryan Knight was able to bring his dad’s remains back home to the same Texas airport where they said their goodbyes decades earlier.
Knight, who currently works as a pilot for Southwest Airlines, was 5 when his father left to serve in Vietnam, and months after his departure, his father went missing in action when his jet was shot down and burst into flames on May 19, 1967, according to CNN and the New York Times.
No one reported seeing a parachute get deployed before the crash at the time, and that September, Knight’s father was declared dead by the Air Force.
In June, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that the remains of Bryan’s father had been identified.
According to the agency, the site of the crash was investigated five times over the years, and this January and February, a team uncovered possible human remains, which were eventually identified to be the late pilot’s.
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Bryan flew his father’s remains back to Dallas Love Field Airport on Thursday, and upon landing, his father received a tremendous greeting, CNN reported.
Canadian journalist Jackson Proskow, who happened to be waiting at the gate where Knight’s plane was arriving, documented the “incredible moment” in a series of moving posts on Twitter.
“They announced it over the intercom. The gate agent was very emotional as he told the story over the PA,” Proskow wrote, adding that American flags were handed out to everyone at the gate.
“The entire terminal has come to watch this arrival,” he wrote alongside pictures of the crowd gathered by the windows. “Incredible moment to watch. The entire airport fell silent.”
“Our Southwest Airlines family is honored to support his long-hoped homecoming and join in tribute to Col. Knight as well as every other military hero who has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement to CNN.
A funeral service will be held for Col. Knight in Weatherford, Texas, on Saturday, his obituary states.