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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Major John W. Knight of Cedaredge, Colorado, died Jan. 15, 2020.

Services will be graveside at 10 a.m. July 18, 2020, at 205 SE Independence Ave., Cedaredge, Colo.

There will be a flyover by the USAF.

Major Knight retired from the U.S. Air Force June 30, 1987.

He was born Aug. 18, 1944, at Oklahoma City to Walter S. Knight and Billye Jean Cook Knight.

His wife Angela Potts Ashurst Knight survives.

He was a 1962 graduate of Tonkawa High School.

Survivors also include his children -- Mark David knight and wife Rosie of Madison, Wisconsin; John Michael Knight and wife Julie of Tucson. Ariz.; William Sterling Knight of Tucson, Susan Knight Woodworth and husband J.C. of Kendall, Wisconsin; his brother, James R. Knight and wife Kathy of Tulsa and sister Mary K. knight and partner Truman Townzen of Lodi, Calif.; 11 grandchildren; one great grandchild. His sister Nancy Knight Waltrip and his parents preceded him in death.

Memorials can be made to the National POW/MIA Memorial and Museum, 6112 POW/MIA Memorial Pkwy., Jacksonville, FL 32221 or the Tonkawa high school alumni association, POB 12, Tonkawa, OK 74653.

Taylor funeral Services of Delta, Ço., are in charge of arrangements.

Major John W Knight’s 20 year career with the USAF can be summed up in his own words: “I live to fly”.

While attending the University of Oklahoma, John participated in the ROTC program. Upon graduation, he was quickly accepted into the 3500th Pilot Training Wing at Reese AFB, TX, where he graduated 2nd in his class. After completing Pilot training, John was assigned to the 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, where he was a Squadron Pilot in the F-105D. His natural ability and desire to learn everything he could made it easy for him to fly combat. While still a First Lieutenant, John was upgraded to Flight Leader status, a rare and rewarding position to have so early in his flying career. It was during this time in Southeast Asia that he received his first Distinguished Flying Cross award. While flying the F105 in Vietnam, he completed 100 missions and became a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association known as the “River Rats.”

In late 1969, John was stationed at Kadena AFB, Okinawa in the 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron and continued flying the F-105 and frequently performed 24 hour alert duty as a bomb commander of the USAF retaliatory strike force. Although required to learn many new techniques in fighter weapons employment, he adapted readily and soon began to achieve weapons delivery scores equal to those of more senior, experienced pilots.

In 1970, John was assigned to the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Myrtle Beach AFB when it was reactivated as part of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing. The unit transitioned to the new LTV A-7D Corsair II aircraft before redeploying in the fall of 1972 as the first Air Force A-7 unit. In 10 weeks of combat just prior to the end of the Vietnam War, the squadron participated in the Linebacker II campaign, generated more than 4,000 sorties, and was credited with 22 rescues of downed airmen. As a result of his service and leadership during this campaign, in August of 1973, Captain John Knight received his second Distinguished Flying Cross. Also during this tour at Korat AFB he was selected as the Wing Chief of Wing Weapons & Tactics contributing significantly to the complete re-deployment of the A-7D squadron from Thailand to Continental United States.

As the Vietnam war was ending, John was assigned as the Detachment Air Liaison Officer, the Air Force representative and advisor to HQ 3d Brigade with the US Army in Bamberg, Germany until April 1977. During his three years in Germany Captain Knight’s contribution significantly improved the combat capabilities of the entire Tactical Air Support System, both in Europe and the world. Captain Knight’s exceptional knowledge of joint operations led to his selection as the project officer on several important projects, one of which was the F-111 Beacon Bombing Validation Test. Major John W Knight (contd)

John was highly effective in training non-US Army units in utilizing USAF Tactical Air Forces during exercises applicable to wartime operations. He was considered “THE THE-ATER EXPERT” on the F-111 Beacon Bombing.

In April 1977, John was assigned to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, as Squadron Flight Commander in the A-7D, where he supervised four mission-ready pilots. His leadership ability and detailed knowledge of the A-7D earned John the honor of being selected as a representative to the Jack Frost Exercise planning conference. He served as a detachment Operations Officer in the US Canal Zone and Scheduling Officer and Strike Force Commander while deployed to Red Flag. On short notice, John planned, coordinated and flight-tested Beacon Aided Radar Bomb validation tests on the A-7 at China Lake Naval Station, California, where his success was instrumental to the development of the A-7 computer software. His significant contributions to the A-7 tactical computer software program and salient other A-7 projects lead to his promotion to Major in 1981.

As Wing/Base Detachment Commander of the 57 Fighter Weapons Wing, he established himself as the Tactical Air Force and Air National Guard authority on all software improvements for the A-7D/K aircraft. In short, Major Knight was the premier test project manager. Until his retirement in 1987, John continued to perform as Tactical Air Command’s liaison to the Fighter Weapons Office while retaining his responsibilities as an operating location of 57 FFW/DT. He was the primary resource for performance tests and evaluations on Air National Guard and AFRES aircraft as well as the A-7 LANA Program Coordinator which resulted in great progress as the first two operational units were scheduled for modification within one year, resulting in “around-the-clock” combat capability for the tactical arm of the US Air Force.

After retirement, Major Knight continued his love of aviation as a contracted member for the National Security Analyst Inc. John served as the Operational Considerations of a six man team whose objective was to produce a plan for the continued modernization of the Air National Guard F-15/B aircraft.

John was active in pilot reunions, helped dedicate a POW/ MIA memorial plaque at the USAF Museum in Dayton, OH (2007) and contributed in 2018 to a research effort to document failed rescue attempts during the Vietnam War.


• 2ND Lieutenant-February 3, 1967

• 1ST Lieutenant-February 25, 1968

• Captain-February 1, 1970

• Major–February 1, 1981

• Retired-June 30, 1987


• University of Oklahoma 12.67 BS Math

• 3500th Pilot Training Wing 2.68

• USAF Operational Training Course F-105 8.68

• Life Support Systems School 9.68

• Pacific Air Force Jungle Survival School 10.68

• Tactical FTG Ops Orient School 10.69

• F-105 Aircrew Weapons Re-certification 6.70

• USAF Familiarization Training 12.70

• USAF Ops Training Crs. A-7D 3.71

• Air Crew Indoctrination Training Prog. 11.69


-- 2 Distinguished Flying Cross

-- 13 Air Medals

-- Army Commendation Medal

-- Distinguished-Presidential Unit Citation

-- 2 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device

-- Combat Readiness Medal

-- 2 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

-- 7 Vietnam Service Medal w

-- 2 Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon

-- Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon

-- 5 Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon

-- Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

-- Air Force Training Ribbon

-- 5 Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross

-- 2 Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal


• 2ND Lieutenant-February 3, 1967

• 1ST Lieutenant-February 25, 1968

• Captain-February 1, 1970

• Major– February 1, 1981

• Retired-June 30, 1987