Born in Texas in 1931, Roy Abner Knight Jr. was the sixth of eight children. He joined the U.S. Air Force just days after his 17th birthday. He started off as a clerk and typist at various locations in Southeast Asia, but eventually attended officer candidate school in the U.S. By 1953, he was a commissioned officer, and in 1957, he began flight training in Texas.

He shipped overseas in January 1967, reporting to the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. He flew combat missions almost every day until he was shot down on May 19, 1967. His obit states that he was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and six air medals.

But his final honour would involve his own family. On this day, his son Bryan — that five-year-old son who had waved goodbye to him when he left for overseas in 1967 — is now a captain with Southwest Airlines, and was the pilot brought home his father home 52 years after that goodbye.

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