Rank and organization:   First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps.
Place and Date:
In Northern Po Valley, Italy, 2425 April 1945.
Entered Service at:
G.O. No.: 81, 24 September 1945.
He piloted a fighter-bomber aircraft in a series of low-level strafing
missions, destroying 14 grounded enemy aircraft and leading attacks which
wrecked 10 others during a critical period of the Allied drive in northern
Italy. On the morning of 24 April, he volunteered to lead 2 other aircraft
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 8 German aircraft
hidden beneath heavy camouflage. He rejoined his flight, briefed them by
radio, and then led them with consummate skill through the hail of enemy
fire in a low-level attack, destroying 5 aircraft, while his flight accounted
for 2 others. Returning to his base, he volunteered to lead 3 other aircraft
in reconnaissance of Bergamo airfield, an enemy base near Ghedi and 1 known
to be equally well defended. Again ordering his flight to remain out of
range of antiaircraft fire, 1st Lt. Knight flew through an exceptionally
intense barrage, which heavily damaged his Thunderbolt, to observe the
field at minimum altitude. He discovered a squadron of enemy aircraft under
heavy camouflage and led his flight to the assault. Returning alone after
this strafing, he made 10 deliberate passes against the field despite being
hit by antiaircraft fire twice more, destroying 6 fully loaded enemy twin-engine
aircraft and 2 fighters. His skillfully led attack enabled his flight to
destroy 4 other twin-engine aircraft and a fighter plane. He then returned
to his base in his seriously damaged plane. Early the next morning, when
he again attacked Bergamo, he sighted an enemy plane on the runway. Again
he led 3 other American pilots in a blistering low-level sweep through
vicious antiaircraft fire that damaged his plane so severely that it was
virtually nonflyable. Three of the few remaining enemy twin-engine aircraft
at that base were destroyed. Realizing the critical need for aircraft in
his unit, he declined to parachute to safety over friendly territory and
unhesitatingly attempted to return his shattered plane to his home field.
With great skill and strength, he flew homeward until caught by treacherous
air conditions in the Appennines Mountains, where he crashed and was killed.
The gallant action of 1st Lt. 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 on the German drive culminated in the collapse of
enemy resistance in Italy.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)