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KNIGHT, RAYMOND LEE

KNIGHT, RAYMOND LEE (1922–1945). Raymond Lee Knight, Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Timpson, Texas, on July 15, 1922. His family later moved to Houston, where he graduated from John Reagan High School in 1940. He entered the United States Army Air Corps at Houston in October 1942 and received his pilot's wings and commission at Harding Field, Louisiana, in April 1944. After further training in the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber, 2d Lt. Knight was assigned to the 350th Fighter Group, Twelfth Air Force, in Northern Italy, where he completed eighty-two combat missions. During his first year of combat he won the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, and the Air Medal with five oak-leaf clusters.

His most notable exploits, however, came in action against heavily defended German airdromes at Ghedi and Bergamo, Italy, in April 1945. On the morning of April 24 he led two other pilots, each flying a single-engine P-47 Thunderbolt, against the heavily defended airdrome at Ghedi. He ordered the other aircraft to stay aloft while he descended to low altitude through heavy antiaircraft fire and located eight German aircraft under heavy camouflage. After rejoining his flight, Knight led the attack and destroyed five of the enemy aircraft, while his teammates shot down two others. After returning to base he volunteered to lead a reconnaissance mission of three other aircraft to the airbase at Bergamo. He ordered his flight to remain out of range of enemy guns while he flew through the fire at low level. Although his Thunderbolt was badly damaged by intense ground fire he observed a squadron of enemy aircraft, heavily camouflaged, and led his flight to the attack. After this strafing, he made ten more passes over the field, and although hit by enemy fire twice more he destroyed six heavily loaded twin-engine aircraft and enemy fighters. He safely returned his damaged aircraft to base. He returned to Bergamo the next morning, April 25, 1945, with a flight of three and attacked an aircraft on the runway. Three more twin-engine aircraft were destroyed. His plane was heavily damaged and virtually unflyable, but he chose to attempt to return the valuable equipment to base for repair. He crashed in the Appennini Mountains and was killed. His gallant action eliminated enemy aircraft that were set to attack the Allied forces in their attempt to establish the first firm bridgehead across the Po River. He personally destroyed fourteen grounded enemy aircraft and led attacks that wrecked ten others.

The Medal of Honor was presented to his widow, Johnnie Lee Knight, and his 2½-year-old-son on the stage at Reagan High School, where Raymond and Johnnie had graduated five years earlier. His remains were buried in Woodlawn Garden of Memories in 1949 and reburied in the Houston National Cemetery in a special section for Medal of Honor recipients on April 25, 1992.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973). Houston Chronicle, April 14, 26, 1992.

Art Leatherwood

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Art Leatherwood, "KNIGHT, RAYMOND LEE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fknhx), accessed October 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.