Dallas Love Field Comes To Standstill In Honor Of Vietnam War Hero Returning Home

Dallas Love Field Comes To Standstill In Honor Of Vietnam War Hero Returning Home

Dallas Love Field Comes To Standstill In Honor Of Vietnam War Hero Returning Home

A beautiful thing happened at Dallas Love Field yesterday. The entire airport came to a standstill as a Vietnam hero, Colonel Roy Knight Jr., was brought home 52 years after he left. The pilot who brought him home? His son, a captain with Southwest Airlines.

Jackson Proskow, the Washington Bureau chief for Global News Canada watched this remarkable and inspiring event unfold. 

He had noticed a few camera crews waiting, but thought it was for some political story given Proskow had just left El Paso. Then, a Southwest gate agent started handing out American flags to all those in the terminal. Shortly thereafter a gate agent, with voice cracking, started telling all about the incredible scene they were about to witness.

Colonel Roy Knight Jr., was shot down in combat over Vietnam in 1967. The gate agent told listeners that  while Col. Knight had ejected from his aircraft, no parachute deployed, and searchers had to finally give up trying to find him. 

““Today, Col. Knight is coming home to Dallas,” said the agent, growing more emotional as he continued explaining what we were about to witness.

At that point, we were told that before deploying, Col. Knight had said farewell to his family at this very airport. He waved goodbye to his five-year-old son. It would be the last time he would see any of them.

By this point in the story, the terminal had fallen silent.

T.S.A. agents stood solemnly in a line near the gate. The gate agent held the microphone in his hands, taking a long pause and a deep breath. He struggled to say what came next: “Today, the pilot of the plane bringing Col. Knight home is his son.””

At the announcement that the pilot was Col. Knight’s son, tears started flowing.

After Jackson Proskow boarded his plane, he searched for Colonel Knight’s obituary, which you can read in full here. In reading his obituary, we learn more about Knight’s service.

“He shipped overseas in January 1967, reporting to the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. He flew combat missions almost every day until he was shot down on May 19, 1967. His obit states that he was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and six air medals.”

The obituary also includes details of the service that will be held this weekend, organizations that people can donate to, and addresses for which POW/MIA bracelets can be returned to.

I don’t know about you, but it’s damned dusty in here. The dustiness got worse when I read this response to Proskow’s story.

Fifty-two years after waving goodbye to his father at Dallas Love Field, Bryan Knight was the pilot who brought his father home to the same airport. I cannot imagine the emotions Bryan and his entire family were going through after waiting for so long for final closure.

Yesterday, in the midst of all the political turmoil and divisive rhetoric, a beautiful thing happened and a hero was honored. For a brief shining moment, an airport was completely and utterly silent in honor of a Vietnam War hero returning home, escorted by his son. A wonderful and needed reminder of our American spirit, patriotism, courage, and grace.

Welcome Home Colonel Roy Knight, Jr. We are deeply grateful for your service.

Feature Photo Credit: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, cropped and modified

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6 Comments
  • Scott says:

    Damn it got dusty in here too… Good on Mr. Knight for bringing his father home!

  • GWB says:

    And that attention and respect given by all those there is indicative of the best of what it means to be American.

    It’s incredible to consider the Vietnam War ended over 40 years ago. It seemed such a defining thing in my formative years. Our country has changed in so many ways since then. But, for so many Americans, the respect offered to one who gave his life for his country has only improved.

    (I wonder, what were the percentages of people in that airport who had waved goodbye to their father headed off to that conflict, how many were of the age that it was them or their brother, and how many were GWoT veterans and their children. And how many came of age in the relatively peaceful time between Vietnam and 9/11.)

  • GWB says:

    Just two other notes, if I may.

    First, the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) was one of two squadrons flying the A-1 ‘Sandy’ on search and rescue missions and close air support for our guys fighting the war in Laos (they also flew over Vietnam, but this was their main mission, I believe). The Sandy drivers (along with the Forward Air Controllers flying OV-1s and OV-2s) were as close to the mud as you could get, and in Laos, probably even a bit closer.
    (I added this because the “Commando” thing sounds so odd when you’re talking about an Air Force squadron, and wanted to give some clarification.)

    Second, while I think our handful of other remaining American airlines would do some of the same things, this was really a very Southwest move. While they might have their occasional problems, Southwest is as American as they come. Thank you to them so much for this.

  • carmine charles says:

    Rest in peace, Colonel Knight.
    You are home.

  • David Byler says:

    Nina! Wonderful uplifting story!

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