Bryan Knight was five years old when he waved goodbye to his father at Dallas Love Field.
It was January 1967, and pilot Roy Knight was heading to fight in the Vietnam war.
It would be the last time Bryan Knight saw his father alive. Five months later, Col. Knight’s plane was shot down. His body remained missing for the next 52 years.
Last week, Bryan Knight -- now a Southwest Airlines pilot -- flew his father’s remains home, his flag-draped coffin arriving at an airport filled with silent spectators and emotional crew.
A pilot who only introduced himself as “Mike” told the plane’s passengers they were part of an honor flight.
“The pilot that flew you in today that was the same 5-year-old boy who was left here at Love Field 52 years with his dad to say goodbye,” he told passengers. “That little boy was your captain.”
It was a powerful moment for everyone who witnessed it – whether on the ground, TV or via social media. But it had special resonance for one First Coast woman.
Shannon Miller lives in Fleming Island and said she realized as soon as she saw the story, she had Col. Knight’s POW/MIA bracelet. The bracelets were popular in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, as a way for civilians to honor the dead and missing.
“You can tell it’s well-worn -- I wore it every day for years,” Miller said, turning over the embossed silver band. “It was important enough that I’ve kept it all these years.”
Now that Col. Knight is home, Miller said, she wants to give his family the band – and a message.
“I would just like them to know that people cared," she said. "People cared that he did not come home when he was supposed to come home, and he was not forgotten.”
Miller, who has several family members who served in combat, says even without the reminder on her wrist, she will never forget Knight’s sacrifice or that of other veterans.
“Anyone who joins the military knows ahead of time there are major sacrifices, and they know they may not come home to their family,” she said. “For someone to be willing to do that just exhibits amazing courage and bravery, and they should always be remembered.”
The family has asked that anyone who has one of Knight’s POW/MIA bracelets to send them to the funeral home in Texas that is handling his interment:
White’s Funeral Home
Attn: Col. Roy Knight Service
130 Houston Avenue
Weatherford, TX 76086
Shannon Miller mailed hers Tuesday morning.