More than five decades ago, Air Force Colonel Roy Knight’s plane went down in Vietnam.
Years passed, and his family never knew exactly what happened to him.
But now, his remains have been identified and brought back to Texas. And his son was the one who got to fly them home.
Brian Knight was only 5 years old when his father Roy departed Dallas’ Love Field Airport for Vietnam in January 1967.
“It was a real surreal experience for a little kid,” Knight told KTVT. “As we were walking back to the car my mother was was just sobbing and that scared me.”
- WATCH: Workers, travelers pause in tribute as Dallas airport honors return of Vietnam veteran’s remains
Four months later, his father was shot down in Laos and presumed dead.
“At that point, you have to, as a family, figure out how to heal,” his son recalled.
Brian Knight followed in his father’s footsteps into the Air Force and now flies as a captain for Southwest Airlines.
Fifty-two years of wondering about his father’s fate ended in June.
“They had been searching in my dad’s crash site area and they said we did find human remains,” Knight said.
When his father’s remains were identified and arrived in California on Wednesday, it made perfect sense who should have the honor of flying the casket back home.
“I would like to be the one to bring him back to love field,” Brian Knight said.
A water cannon salute welcomed the flight from Oakland. Passengers had no idea about their captain’s touching tribute to his father until they arrived.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal experience for me, you know. I think I’m going to very close to him during the flight. You know, you can’t imagine what an honor it is for a son to be able to do that for his father,” said Brian.
Knight’s relatives watched along with airport and airline employees as the flag-draped casket was carried off the plane with military honors.
“It’s an absolutely amazing story. It’s warm and heavy on the hearts at the same time,” said Alan Kasher, the Vice President of Flight Operations at Southwest Airlines.
Colonel Knight could be among the last fallen Vietnam heroes from North Texas to come back home. So, this was fitting final homecoming.