Remains of Air Force officer MIA since 1967 returning home, ending 50-year vigil
By WILLIAM PATRICK | Palestine Herald-Press | Published: June 20, 2019
PALESTINE, Texas (Tribune News Service) — When she was 12, Leslie Floyd bought a 75-cent metal bracelet with the name of a missing-in-action soldier etched on it. Back then, it's what all the cool kids wore, she said.
Nearly half of a century later, the name on her bracelet appeared in the Palestine Herald-Press: The remains of Vietnam veteran U.S. Air Force Col. Roy A. Knight Jr. were found. He's coming home to be laid to rest.
“I saw the name in the paper and couldn't believe it,” Floyd, 59, told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “I ran to my jewelry box and rifled through it. When I read the name on the bracelet again, I started to cry.”
Floyd, who refused to have her photo taken, remains shocked at the events leading to that moment.
A native of Hobbs, New Mexico, she recently moved to Anderson County, after living in San Angelo for several years. Making her discovery more unlikely, the use of the article in Wednesday's Herald-Press, written by CNHI reporter David May, was a last-minute editorial decision to fill a news hole.
The article was the first information Floyd found on Knight. Internet searches over the years yielded nothing.
“I believe God puts people exactly where they're supposed to be,” Floyd said, admiring her still-shining bracelet as she choked back a tear. “I'm going to return this to his family.”
Knight, a major when his plane was shot down over Laos in 1967, was pronounced missing in action until 1974, when the federal government reclassified those missing in action as killed in action.
Floyd bought the bracelet in 1972, after Knight had been promoted to lieutenant colonel in absentia. Years later, he was promoted to colonel.
Excavations of the crash site, which had been heavily scavenged by locals, turned up personal items relating to Knight, but no human remains. In 2018, recovery specialists from a special survey team with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), decided enough evidence was found to merit another visit.
After floods due to a broken dam delayed them, the recovery specialists found Knight's remains June 4.
Floyd contacted Knight's aunt, Patsy Duncan, in hopes of locating his son, Roy Knight. Although she has yet to do so, Floyd hopes he will contact her soon.
The POW/MIA bracelets, the brainchild of the student organization, Voices in Vital America, hit the market on Veteran's Day, 1970, with 1,200 bracelets. Each bracelet has the name and rank of a service member missing in action, along with date the service member went missing.
Eventually, VIVA received 12,000 requests a day for bracelets; nearly five million bracelets have been distributed.
Roy Knight, a recipient of the Air Force Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Silver Star, will be laid to rest Aug. 10, at Holder's Chapel, named for the family of his mother, Martha Holder Knight, in Cool, Texas.
Floyd plans to attend the services, where she hopes to present Roy Knight with the bracelet bearing his father's name.
“I really want to give him the bracelet,” she said. “My job in keeping his father's memory alive will be done when I do that.”
Knight's military funeral, which will be open to the public, will include a ceremonial color guard and jet flyover.
© 2019 the Palestine Herald-Press (Palestine, Texas)
Visit the Palestine Herald-Press (Palestine, Texas) at www.palestineherald.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.