John Henry Knight Jr. – Vietnam POW, Held for Two Years in Cambodia, Awarded Silver Star for Bravery, Blog of Shame8
01/16/2019 by militaryphonies
John Henry Knight Jr, comes to us from Orange, TX. He died in November of 2018 at the age of 75 y/o.
Knight enlisted out of high school when he was just 17 years old.
While Knight was in a hospice, he described his time in Southeast Asia to the local newspaper…
Knight never expected to live long enough to be a veteran.
The retired iron worker says he spent two years as a Viet Cong prisoner after being shot down over Cambodia in 1962.
Knight, who ultimately escaped via Thailand, was among a crew of 26 on the giant Lockheed Constellation.
“I was one of two that survived,” the U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer said.
But you’ll have to take Knight’s word for it. Like the Impossible Mission Force from TV and movies, the U.S. government disavowed any knowledge of Knight’s flights over Vietnam’s western neighbor.
“Denied truth,” is what Knight called it.
“According to my records, I spent my time on a seaplane tender in Rota, Spain. There’s only two things wrong with that: they didn’t have any seaplane tenders and Rota is an air base, not a sea base.”
It would still be two years before President Lyndon Johnson authorized direct U.S. involvement in Vietnam, a bloody 12-year engagement that caused division and upheaval on the homefront.
“It was an out-and-out civil war that we got pulled into,” Knight said of the U.S. siding with South Vietnam against a North Vietnamese Army assisted by Communist China and the Communist guerilla group known as the Viet Cong, or Viet Minh.
“It was a dirty little war. But it was the war we had.”
Knight said he was awarded the Silver Star for bravery.SOURCE: https://therecordlive.com/2018/11/06/viet-vet-tells-of-spying-pow-escape/
Knight claims to have escaped by hiding under the body of a dead Cambodian soldier.
Knight died soon after this interview.
In his obituary, it states that while he served in the Vietnam War, he was a Prisoner of War (POW) and held in Cambodia for two years.
. . . . .
John Knight’s military records were requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
. . . . .
NATIONAL PERSONNEL RECORDS CENTER – NPRC
. . . . .
DISCUSSION and SUMMARY
Knight served two years in the U.S. Navy and was stationed aboard the USS Luce.
The USS Luce did not spend time off the coast of Vietnam during the time that Knight was aboard.
POW & VIETNAM
All of the standard resources were checked and Knight’s name is not listed as a Prisoner of War.
Knight was in the Navy Reserve in 1962. He was not active duty until the fall of 1963, so how could he have been shot down over Cambodia in 1962?
We highly doubt it was during a weekend drill in the Navy Reserve.
MEDALS & AWARDS
Knight also does not have the POW medal to support such a claim.
His records do not show that he was awarded a Silver Star.
Knight does not have a medal that supports his claim of being in Vietnam.
RATE AND RANK
Knight was discharged as an RD3 – a Radarman 3rd Class Petty Officer (E-4) which was not a Chief Petty Officer (E-7) as was claimed in the article.
We cannot speak to Knight’s claim of being a Russian interpreter.
The official military records for Knight do not support his claims of military service. If these claims were leveraged for something of value over the years, Knight may have been in violation of the Stolen Valor Act.
Unless the paper prints a correction, people that do newspaper searches in the future may associate Knight as being a POW and/or a Silver Star recipient.
Knight was cremated, but it will be interesting to see what his marker will say about his military service.
. . . . .
PHOTOS and SOCIAL MEDIA
SOCIAL MEDIA: none