Son of Air Force Colonel shot down in Vietnam gets to fly father’s remains back home


(CNN) — More than five decades ago, Air Force Colonel Roy Knight’s plane went down in Vietnam.

The years passed and Knight’s family never knew exactly what happened to him.

But now, his remains have been identified and brought back to Texas.

And Knight’s son, also a pilot, was the one who got to fly them home.

It happened at Dallas Love Field Airport in January 1967.

Brian Knight remembers it like yesterday.

“It was a real surreal experience for a little kid,” said Brian Knight.

Knight was only 5 years old when his father Roy departed Love Field for Vietnam and the family said goodbye.

“As we were walking back to the car, my mother was just sobbing and that scared me,” Knight said.

Colonel Knight was an Air Force combat pilot.

He was shot down in Laos just four months later and presumed dead.

“At that point, you have to, as a family, figure out how to heal,” Brian said.

Brian followed in his father’s footsteps into the Air Force and now flies as a captain for Southwest Airlines.

52 years of wondering about his father’s fate ended in June.

“They had been searching in my dad’s crash site area, and they said we did find human remains,” Brian said.

When the remains of the serviceman were identified and arrived in California on Wednesday, it made perfect sense who should have the honor of flying the casket back home.

“I would like to be the one to bring him back to love field,” Brian said.

A water cannon salute welcomed the flight from Oakland, carrying passengers who had no idea about their captain’s touching tribute to his father until they arrived.

“It’s going to be a phenomenal experience for me, you know. I think I’m going to be very close to him during the flight,” Brian said. “You know, you can’t imagine what an honor it is for a son to be able to do that for his father.”

Relatives watched along with airport and airline employees as the flag-draped casket was carried off the plane with military honors.

“It’s an absolutely amazing story,” said Alan Kasher, Vice President of Flight Operations for Southwest Airlines. “It’s warm and heavy on the hearts at the same time.”

Colonel Knight could be among the last fallen Vietnam heroes from North Texas to come back home.

If so, this was fitting final homecoming.

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