Fifty-two years after he was shot down during a combat mission in Laos, Garner native Col. Roy A. Knight Jr. was returned home and permanently laid to rest Saturday with other family members at Holder's Chapel Cemetery.
Several hundred people attended the service with full military honors including a flag-draped casket carried by a U.S. Air Force color guard, a 21-gun salute and a four-plane military jet flyover that with pinpoint accuracy flew directly over the gravesite.
Knight was a major attached to the 602nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, assigned to Udorn Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, when his plane was shot down over Laos on May 19, 1967. He was leading a flight of two A-1E aircraft on a strike mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in northern Laos when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. His plane burst into flames and went down.
In 1991 and 1992, Joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) 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 sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory for analysis. Scientists from DPAA used dental analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence and confirmed the recovered remains were those of Col. Knight.
Knight joined his brother, siblings and other family members in final rest at Holder’s Chapel Cemetery. The cemetery is named for the family of their mother, Martha Holder Knight, who was married to their father, Roy Abner Knight Sr. He was the sixth of the couple's seven sons and one daughter.
One of Knight’s five older brothers, Jack Knight, also of Garner, received the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, for his valor in combat during World War II in the China-Burma-India theater as a member of the 124th Calvary. He died in 1945.
Roy Abner Knight Jr. was born in Garner on February 1, 1931, the sixth of seven sons and one daughter. He graduated from Millsap High School in 1947 and enlisted in the United States Air Force days after his 17th birthday, following his five older brothers who all served in WWII.