The moment America needs: Texas tarmac falls silent to welcome home Vietnam hero’s remains

(Image: screenshot)

A fallen veteran received an emotional homecoming as travelers at a Texas airport gave an impromptu welcome honoring the return of his remains.

Col. Roy Knight’s body was recently recovered and identified after being shot down over Vietnam in 1967. He was being returned home to Dallas at the same airport where he waved goodbye to his five-year-old son 52 years ago when he was deployed.

(Video: YouTube/Global News)

The homecoming was reported by Jackson Proskow, Washington bureau chief for Canada’s Global News, who chronicled the moment in a now-viral Twitter thread that he shared while traveling home to Washington, D.C. after covering the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

While in the Dallas airport for a layover awaiting his next flight to D.C., Proskow noticed that “something incredible is happening.”

“Dallas became the place where the weight of the world seemed to melt away. The place where the good outweighed the bad for the first time in days,” he later wrote in an article about the experience for Global News.

Proskow explained how there were cameras at Dallas’ Love Field when he arrived but took no note of it until a  Southwest Airlines agent handed out American flags to passengers in the terminal and an agent began speaking over the P.A. system.

“A gate agent, his voice cracking, told us about the very special arrival we were about to witness,” Proskow wrote.

 

“Col. Knight ejected from his aircraft, but no parachute was seen deploying,” the gate agent told the crowd that was gathering. “A search was undertaken but could not find him.”

“Today, Col. Knight is coming home to Dallas,” the agent announced, “growing more emotional” according to Proskow who noted that more people had gathered in the terminal as the story unfolded of how Knight waved goodbye to his son at the same airport, never to see him again.

Proskow recounted the next emotional moments:

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.”

 

“There were quiet gasps. A few people burst into tears,” Proskow shared.

Firetrucks provided a water salute as flight 1220 from Oakland taxied in before ground crews standing in formation.

“We all watched silently as the flag-draped casket was unloaded from the cargo hold, met by what we could only assume to be Col. Knight’s family and a military guard,” Proskow wrote, adding that the entire airport seemed to fall “absolutely silent.”

“People stood quietly at the window, wiping away tears, taking in a moment few rarely get to see,” he added. “It was peaceful, it was beautiful and it was a privilege to watch.”

Knight “was shot down while attacking a target on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. He was initially listed as Missing in Action until being declared Killed in Action in 1974. During that time, he was promoted to Colonel,” according to his obituary, which was shared by Proskow.

Roy Abner Knight Jr., who was born in Texas in 1931, was the sixth of eight children and joined the U.S. Air Force right after he turned 17, according to the obituary.

Proskow shared more:

He started off as a clerk and typist at various U.S. bases in Southeast Asia but eventually attended officer candidate school in the U.S. By 1953, he was a commissioned officer, and in 1957, he began flight training in Texas.

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.

 

Knight’s wife had died in 2008 and his parents passed away just three years after he disappeared.

“One cannot fathom what it must be like to wait half a century for closure, or what this moment must have been like for his family,” Proskow noted.

Southwest Airlines was “honored to support” bringing Knight’s remains back to the U.S., a spokesman said, according to The Hill.

“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,” Dan Landson said.

Frieda Powers

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