Bryan Knight used to watch every prisoner of war step off their planes when they returned to the U.S. during the Vietnam War, hoping one of them would be his dad.
"Your job and your duty as a family and as a child is to have hope," Bryan Knight, a pilot for Southwest, said in a video released by the airline on Friday. "As a kid, you somehow think if you don't do that, you're somehow now going to be responsible for him being lost."
Knight was 5 years old the last time he saw his dad alive. They said farewell at Dallas Love Field Airport before Air Force Col. Roy Knight shipped off to Vietnam.
The colonel was later declared missing in action after he was shot down over Laos in 1967. His remains were never recovered -- until this year.
"When I first got the call, it was almost surreal because I really didn't think it would ever happen," Knight, an Air Force veteran, said in the video.
On Thursday, Knight flew his dad back to the place they last saw each other: Dallas Love Field Airport.
Jackson Proskow, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, was at the airport when they announced that Knight had landed with his father's remains. He captured the moment busy travelers stopped at the bustling airport to welcome back a fallen war hero.
After Knight's plane touched down, the pilot received a message in the cockpit.
"We welcome your father, Col. Knight, home. Though he is gone, he'll never be forgotten."