More than five decades after he disappeared in a war zone, the remains of a North Texas fighter pilot have finally come home.
During the height of the Vietnam War, Air Force Col. Roy A. Knight, a 36-year-old from Millsap, deployed to Southeast Asia.
On May 19, 1967, he was leading a strike mission over the country of Laos when his plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed.
His team never saw a parachute deploy.
Because the region was so hostile at the time, search and rescue efforts were limited, and he was never found.
It would be decades before a joint U.S./Laos team would begin investigating and excavating the area, searching for any sign of Knight and other soldiers who went missing during the war.
In January of this year, they got the breakthrough they were looking for.
The Department of Defense confirmed the team recovered possible human remains and life-support items near the area where Knight's plane went down.
They were sent to a lab for analysis. And on June 4 -- with the help of dental records -- Knight was finally accounted for.
"What incredible support we've had," said Roy Knight III, Col. Knight's son. "The active duty military personnel who actually went in there and spent almost a month on dad's crash site, excavating the area -- the fact that they were able to do that is remarkable."
Thursday, 52-years after he was shot down, Knight's remains completed the long journey home. One of his sons, who is now a pilot for Southwest Airlines, got to fly the plane on its final leg into Dallas Love Field.
"The Air Force and Southwest Airlines coming together to make it possible for my brother to fly dad on that last leg -- I can't say enough," said Knight. "They truly went way beyond themselves to make this happen. And I just could not be prouder to be associated with both of them."
Knight, members of his family, local law enforcement, and the Patriot Guard Riders lined the tarmac to greet him as he landed.
Then, after his casket was loaded into a hearse, they formed a procession around him, guiding him to Weatherford, where he'll be buried this weekend.
"It's a day we never thought would actually happen," said Knight. "And the fact that it did is remarkable. It's actually miraculous. There's a lot to this. There's competing emotions. He's coming home, which is a very good thing – but there's also the aspect of we're re-living the loss. We're really becoming reacquainted with all that in a very real manner...but I had no idea [the reception] was going to be like this. It's absolutely amazing."