A Southwest Airlines pilot flew his Vietnam veteran father’s remains home Thursday 52 years after waving goodbye to him as a 5-year-old.
Knight said he and his mother dropped his father off at Love Field 52 years ago in January 1967 when he deployed to Vietnam. Knight’s father was shot down May 19, 1967 during a mission in northern Laos.
“It means a lot to us to bring him home. He deserves it,” Knight told Global News.
“You can’t imagine what an honor it is for a son to be able to do that for his father,” Knight, who went on to become a pilot like his father, said of the flight.
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Knight’s family had been contacted by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency team earlier this year and notified that remains had been found. Dental records had been used to positively identify the remains as Knight’s father.
“You have to maintain that hope no matter what you hear no matter what anybody says,” Knight said of the time his family spent not knowing what had happened to his father. “I felt very close to him during the flight home.”
When the family was contacted by the mortuary that the remains had landed stateside, Knight asked if he could fly his father home to Dallas.
After the flight landed, the co-pilot announced to passengers that they had been part of an honor flight to transport the captain’s father. Applause and tears followed his remarks, which a passenger recorded.
The airplane, which was met by a large crowd waiting on the tarmac, was flown through a water-cannon salute as it pushed up to the gate.
Members of the military escorted the flag-draped casket from the plane. He will be buried with full military honors Saturday.
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