Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The remains of a U.S. Air Force pilot killed during the Vietnam War have finally been returned to the United States, 52 years after he was shot down by enemy forces.
The son of Maj. Roy Knight Jr. -- also a pilot, for Southwest Airlines -- took the remains home Thursday, his family said.
Bryan Knight was 5 when he last saw his father.
"To be able to do this, to bring my father home, I'm very honored and lucky," he said. "How many people have an opportunity to do this?"
Knight's plane arrived at Dallas' Love Field and was welcomed by military personnel, family and Southwest crew members. An arc of water shot over the airplane as it taxied to the terminal, a symbol traditionally given when an aircraft is retired from the fleet.
The elder Knight was shot down over Laos on May 19, 1967, while attacking the Ho Chi Minh Trail, his obituary said. He was listed as "missing in action," and promoted to colonel, before the designation was changed to "killed in action" in 1974.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified and recovered Knight's remains in February.
"Knight was leading a flight of two A-1E aircraft on a strike mission in northern Laos when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire," the Defense POW/MIA website states. "No parachute was observed prior to the aircraft crashing and bursting into flames.
"Additionally, no beeper signals were heard. While search and rescue efforts were initiated, an organized search could not be conducted due to the intensity of hostile ground fire in the area."
The effort to find Knight and identify his remains started in 1991, and U.S. and Laos investigators found a crash site and life support items three years later. The site was excavated four times over the years and human remains were finally unearthed this year.
Knight was identified through dental records and circumstantial evidence found at the crash site. He will be buried in Weatherford, Texas, Saturday.