Vietnam POW’s Remains Flown Back Home by Pilot Son

Vietnam POWs Remains Flown Back Home by Pilot Son

Alex Herman, Reporter

Losing a family member away in war can be heart-wrenching, but imagine not knowing where their remains were or if they were never found. That’s exactly what happened to Southwest Airlines Captain Bryan Knight, who lost his father Col. Roy A. Knight Jr. more than fifty years ago when he was serving in the Vietnam War.

Roy Knight
This photo of Col. Roy A. Knight Jr. was found on

In the year 1948 ,just after his seventeenth birthday,  Col. Roy A. Knight Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and by 1957, Knight Jr. was accepted into Laredo Pilot Training to become a fighter pilot in Germany and France.  A few years later, he returned to his home in Texas as an instructor. In 1966, he was ordered to war and was deployed to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, where he flew combat missions. Knight Jr. was on a mission leading an airstrike in Laos when suddenly his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, causing it to go up in flames.  U.S. authorities were unable to retrieve it, but he was later pronounced dead in September 1974 after rescue and search efforts failed. The crash was excavated in 1994, where it was then revisited several times after.

With many painful years of not knowing where Knight Jr.’s remains were, they finally got a lead. In the months of January and February 2019, a joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republic team were working on the area where Knight Jr.’s plane had crashed, when they discovered human remains. With the help of old dental records, DPAA scientists were able to confirm they were the remains of Roy A. Knight Jr. His remains were flown home by one of his son’s – Captain Bryan Knight.  Knight Jr’s eldest son, Roy Knight III told sources at the Dallas Love Field Airport that his dad’s return was “a day the family thought would never happen. It’s just remarkable, it’s actually miraculous,” he said. “There’s a lot to this, there’s competing emotions, not only because he’s coming home … which is a good thing, it is a very good thing, but there’s also the aspect that we’re reliving the loss.”

Image: Roy A. Knight casket
This picture of Roy Knight’s casket being greeted was found on

The most appreciable part of this story was that the return of Knight Jr’s. remains were announced over the intercom at the airport and all the travelers and employees stopped to watch, salute, and honor the fighter pilot’s casket being returned home. Also, Knight Jr. was awarded the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and six Air Medals, that will be buried with him in Weatherford, Texas.