After 52 years, the remains of Air Force pilot Col. Roy Knight Jr.– shot down in 1967 throughout the Vietnam War– have finally gotten home.

And the aircraft that carried them, a commercial jet owned by Southwest Airlines, was flown by Knight’s kid, Capt. Bryan Knight.

The remains showed up Thursday in a flag-draped coffin to Dallas Love Field– the exact same airport where Knight bid farewell to his then-5-year-old kid.

“When I first got the call, it was nearly surreal,” Bryan Knight told Southwest Airlines. “I actually didn’t believe it would ever occur. Wow, you know, he’s actually getting home. We’re going to have the ability to bring him back, and we’re going to have a location where we can honor him.”

Roy Knight Jr. was shot down in May 1967 while pursuing a target on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

Military authorities say the crash site was searched numerous times because the 1990s. Remains connected to Knight lastly surfaced this year and were recognized in June.

Knight’s obituary explains him as “a dedicated and loving kid, brother, partner, dad and pal” who was favored by those with whom he served. Born in 1931, he finished high school in 1947 and employed in the Air Force days after his 17th birthday. He served as a clerk typist in the Philippines, Japan and Korea before beginning pilot training in 1957. He became a fighter pilot, serving in Germany and France before returning home in 1963 to work as an instructor pilot.

In 1966, Knight received orders to deploy to Southeast Asia. He reported to the 602nd Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in January of 1967, and flew combat missions almost daily until being shot down May 19 of that year.

He was explained as Missing out on In Action up until 1974, when he was noted as Killed In Action. He has been posthumously awarded the Flying force Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and 6 air medals.

Canada’s Global News’ Washington Bureau Chief Jackson Proskow experienced the casket’s dumping. Proskow was on his method home from El Paso, where he ‘d been covering the deadly shooting that took location last weekend. He explained a psychological scene; a minute of goodness in a difficult week.

“Airports hardly ever see moments of peaceful– but for a couple of brief minutes, Dallas Love Field fell definitely silent,” he composed. Observers stood calmly at the window, some cleaning away tears. “As Flight 1220 from Oakland taxied cab towards the jet bridge, 2 airport firetrucks provided a sombre water salute while the landing crew stood in development.”

“It was serene, it was lovely and it was an advantage to watch,” he included.

Knight’s welcome home ceremony stands in contrast to the conditions of the U.S.’s less than 850,000 living Vietnam veterans, a lot of whom still experience the aftereffects of combat. These consist of severe injuries, post-traumatic tension condition and health problems associated with Agent Orange exposure. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that nearly half of all currently-homeless veterans served throughout Vietnam.

Knight’s service with full military honors will be hung on Saturday 50 miles west of Dallas in Weatherford, according to The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.Copyright 2019 NPR

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