Aviano mourns airman, wife who died in car crash
June 23, 2006
AVIANO, Italy — Air Force Tech Sgt. Michael Knight and his pregnant wife, Laura, were remembered Thursday as solid members of the Aviano community whose lives were taken too soon in a car accident June 16.
Their 3-year-old son, Alex, who suffered a broken arm, is on his way back to the States to live with relatives, Brig. Gen. Robert Yates, 31st Fighter Wing commander, told the hundreds of mourners assembled Thursday at Aviano Air Base.
Throughout emotional eulogies, friends and co-workers remembered a consummate Air Force professional and his selfless wife.
Friends described Michael, 35, as the guy to go to in Ammo when there was a seemingly unsolvable question. One airman called him a father figure. He loved motorcycles, and his family even more.
“Michael was a throwback, he was an NCO from the old school,” Master Sgt. Reggie Jones said, adding that Michael spoke his mind and was dedicated to his work. “He led by example.”
Friends recalled Laura, 32, who was six months pregnant, as the epitome of kindness, a giving and gentle soul who was a leader in the American religious community around Aviano.
The couple was driving toward Roverto in Piano at 5:15 p.m. Friday when their vehicle collided with a gravel truck, according to media reports. Michael Knight died upon impact. Laura Knight died at nearby Udine University Hospital. Their son, who was in the backseat, was treated at a hospital and released. The truck driver was unhurt.
During the memorial service, Chaplain (Capt.) Jack Stanley said that the freedom of will that allowed the Knights to drive down that Italian road on June 16 is God’s ultimate gift, even if that freedom to do anything ends tragically.
“God made the world, and specifically humanity, to be free,” he said. “We don’t call that abandonment, we call that love.”
The Knights’ sudden and violent death, and the loss of their unborn child, is a pain almost too complex for the human mind to process, Stanley said.
“How do you compartmentalize a pain like that?” he said to the grieving.
But passage from this world is inevitable, Stanley said. Anyone can leave this life, at any time, so the most must be made of each day.
“We’re not as in control of things as we think we are,” he said. “Life creeps up on us, and so does death.”
While the pain and senselessness of this loss is still so fresh and raw to the heart, the healing process starts now, Yates said.
“We take baby steps together, in a journey toward healing,” he said.
Apart from their son, the Knights are survived by Michael’s parents, Laura and Ronald Knight of Carrollton, Ga., and Laura’s parents, Art and Ruth Handy, of Peachtree City, Ga.