RAYMOND LARRY KNIGHT (1922 ~ 1945). Medal of Honor Recipient Ray Knight was born in Timpson, Texas, on July 15, 1922. Knight's family soon moved to Houston, where he graduated from John Reagan High School in 1940.
He joined the Army Air Corps in Houston in October 1942. He received his pilot's wings and a commission in April 1944, at Harding Field, Louisiana. Knight was assigned to the 350th Fighter Group, Twelfth Air Force in Northern Italy, where he flew 82 combat missions in a P-47 Thunderbolt. During that time he earned two Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters.
He was a First Lieutenant by April 24, 1945, when he led a group of three aircraft on a mission to find enemy aircraft on the ground and destroy them. Finding the enemy airstrip outside Ghedi, Italy, defended by heavy antiaircraft fire, Knight ordered his wingmen to stay at a safe altitude while he dove to search the area. He found eight camouflaged German aircraft and led an attack in which he destroyed five of them and his wingmen destroyed two. Returning to base, Knight volunteered to lead another group of three planes to an airfield near Bergamo, Italy. Once again he ordered his group to stay at a safe distance from antiaircraft fire while he searched for hidden targets. Receiving damage from enemy fire, Knight discovered a camouflaged enemy squadron and led an attack. Knight made ten passes over the enemy aircraft, and his plane was hit twice more by enemy fire. During this raid, he destroyed six twin engine aircraft.
The next morning, Knight volunteered to lead another attack on the airfield at Bergamo. Three more enemy aircraft were destroyed, but Knight's plane was also seriously damaged from enemy fire. He chose to try to make it back to base, knowing it would be easier for the Air Corps to make repairs than to supply a replacement P-47. Knight crashed in the Appennini Mountains on the return flight. His action over those two days hindered the enemy's ability to attack the advancing Allied forces from the air, and for his actions was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His medal was presented to his wife, Johnnie Lee Knight, and their two year old son on the stage at Reagan High school in Houston.
Knight was buried in 1949 at Woodlawn Garden of Memories in Houston, and was moved to the Houston National Cemetery's section for Medal of Honor recipients in 1992.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. Frisbee, John L. "The Path of Duty," Air Force Magazine Online, http://www.afa.org/magazine/valor/0487valor.asp, October 18, 2005. Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/KK/fknhx.html, September 26, 2005.