Bryan Knight was just 5 years old when he saw his dad alive for the last time.
His father, Col. Roy Knight Jr., was an Air Force pilot who fought during the Vietnam War. In 1967, Knight said goodbye to his family at Dallas Love Field Airport.
Later that year, he was shot down in Laos. He was declared killed in action in 1974 after search efforts failed to find him.
Then, earlier this year, Knight’s remains were at last discovered and identified. And in a touching tribute, Bryan Knight himself brought them home.
Now a pilot for Southwest Airlines, Bryan flew his father’s remains back to Texas, to the same airport where they had said goodbye more than 50 years ago.
“We had pretty much given up any hope that this would ever happen,” Bryan’s brother Roy Knight III told TODAY. “We're absolutely amazed how this came to pass.”
Roy Knight served in the Air Force for more than 20 years at bases in Asia and the U.S. He and his wife, Patricia, raised three children: Roy III, Gayann and Bryan, the youngest.
Bringing his remains home after so many years was an emotional experience for everyone.
The airport terminal fell silent and airport workers stood at attention as the colonel’s family received his flag-draped casket on the tarmac.
For Roy, the colonel’s oldest son, it was a bittersweet moment of closure.
“It was beautiful. It was emotional. It was sad. But it was good, too,” he said. “It was like the end of a journey.”