Knight -- 1st Lt Raymond L Knight
Published December 02, 2014
Raymond Knight enlisted in the Air Corps at Houston. Oct. 12. 1942. He took flying training at Stamford, Sherman and Foster Fields, Texas, being commissioned as a pilot in May 1944. He served at Matagorda and Abilene. Texas, until going to the Mediterranean Theater in Italy in November 1944, being assigned to the 350th Fighter Group's 346th Squadron.
From December 1944, until his death, Apr. 25, 1945, he flew 82 combat missions in 180 hours of combat time, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and six Air Medals, in addition, to the coveted Medal of Honor for two heroic days of flying in his Thunderbolt fighter in the northern Po Valley area.
Promoted to first lieutenant a month before this action, Lieutenant Knight in the two days of low-level strafing missions destroyed 14 grounded enemy planes and led attacks which wrecked 10 others and greatly aided the Allied drive in northern Italy. On the morning of Apr. 24, he volunteered to lead two other planes against the strongly defended enemy airdrome at Ghedi. Ordering his fellow pilots to remain aloft. he skimmed the ground through a deadly curtain of antiaircraft fire to reconnoiter the field, locating eight German planes hidden beneath heavy camouflage. He rejoined his flight. briefed them by radio, and then led the attack, getting five planes himself while his mates got two others.
Returning to base, he again volunteered to lead three planes in reconnaissance of Bergamo Airfield. Using the same method, he personally discovered a squadron of enemy planes under camouflage and his own plane was hit by ground fire. He led ten deliberate passes against the field, personally destroying six fully loaded twin-engine planes and two fighters, while his element destroyed five others. Lieutenant Knight returned to base in his damaged fighter. Next morning he again attacked Bergamo, getting his fourteenth plane on the ground while his fellow pilots ran their score to 10. He again was hit, refused to parachute, and en route home lost his life when caught by the treacherous air conditions in the Apennine Mountains, where he crashed.
His Medal of Honor reads, in part: "...The gallant action of Lieutenant Knight eliminated the German aircraft which were poised to wreak havoc on Allied forces pressing to establish the first firm bridgehead across the Po River. His fearless daring and voluntary self-sacrifice averted possible heavy casualties among ground forces and the resultant slowing of the drive which culminated in the collapse of German resistance in Italy."
See the full citation at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
For additional information see the National Museum of the USAF website.