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Somber Homecoming: Vietnam War Veteran's Remains Return To Texas

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The remains of a fighter pilot who was shot down in Vietnam during the war have returned to North Texas.

A Southwest Airlines Jet piloted by Air Force Col. Roy A. Knight, Jr's son touched down just after 11:30 a.m.

veteran-casket
(credit: CBS 11 News)

Knight was only 36-years-old when he was killed. 

In May 1967, he was a pilot with the 602nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, assigned to Udorn Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. On May 19, 1967, Knight was leading a flight of two A-1E aircraft on a strike mission in northern Laos, when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. No parachute was observed prior to the aircraft crashing and bursting into flames. Additionally, no beeper signals were heard. While search and rescue efforts were initiated, an organized search could not be conducted due to intensity of hostile ground fire in the area. The Air Force declared Knight deceased in September 1974.

Knight
Air Force Col. Roy A. Knight, Jr., of Millsap, Texas (courtesy: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

In 1991 and 1992, Joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) teams investigated a crash site allegedly associated with Knight's loss, recommending it for excavation. In March 1994, the site was excavated and life support items were recovered. The crash site was investigated four additional times in subsequent years.

In January and February 2019, a joint team recovered possible human remains and additional life support items. The remains were accessioned to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

To identify Knight's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence.

Today there are 1,588 Department of Defense personnel who are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, according to the DPAA. Knight's name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he was accounted for.

Knight's burial is scheduled for Aug. 10, 2019 in Weatherford, Texas.

 

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