Today’s Veteran’s Day ceremony at Weatherford College is going above and beyond the call of duty. Today at 10:30 a.m. the community is invited to gather around the Ed Kramer Flag Plaza adjacent to the Academic Building for the traditional ceremony of recognizing service men and women from all branches and memorializing those who have passed on. In addition, college officials will hold a dedication ceremony naming the newly-renovated, former Allied Health Building the 1st Lt. Jack L. Knight Building.
Knight was born and raised in Garner and graduated from Weatherford College in 1938. He joined the military two years later and was stationed, along with two of his brothers, at Camp Wolters in Mineral Wells as part of Troop F, 124th Cavalry Regiment with the Texas National Guard. Four other brothers later joined the service as well. On Feb. 2, 1945 near LoiKang, Burma, Knight destroyed two Japanese pill boxes while protecting his troops from heavy concentrations of artillery and small-arms fire. His brother, Curtis, was hit during the assault, and Knight ordered his men to see to his aid while he continued to take out enemies. Blinded by explosions, Knight was fatally wounded during the battle at the age of 27. The sight of the battle has since been named “Knight’s Hill.”
For his actions that day, Knight was awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, which his father accepted in his place four months after his burial in Cool. Knight is believed to be the only Weatherford College graduate to ever receive this honor.
WC Board of Trustees Chair Frank Martin nominated Knight to be the namesake of the newly renovated building in June after researching his background with the help of Knight’s brother, Dr. Bill Knight; and sister, June Knight Campbell.
“He came from an early Parker County pioneer family and, along with six brothers and a sister, was raised near Garner through the heart of the depression,” Martin said. “All of the boys from that family served in the military. He was killed in World War II in 1945. His brother Roy was shot down in 1967 in Vietnam and declared Killed in Action in 1974. This family is the epitome of heartland America.”
About 30 members of Knight’s family and current members of the Texas National Guard 124th Cavalry Regiment from Grand Prairie are anticipated to attend the ceremony where a granite marker will be revealed commemorating Knight’s sacrifice. Knight’s family has donated his medals to the college including his Medal of Honor and Purple Heart. These will be on display during the Veterans Day ceremony.
The ceremony will also pay a special tribute to Sgt. Chuck Katlic, a World War II Battle of the Bulge survivor who was always active and outspoken on veteran’s affairs in Parker County. Katlic died earlier this year.
Retired Brigadier General Nathan Vail, a Vietnam veteran, will also speak during the ceremony.
Music during the event will be provided by the Weatherford College choir, the WC Howlin’ Brass Band along with songs performed by Sonny Burgess and Doug Jefferson, and bagpipes by Hunter Burt.
Martin said the event provides a hearty thank you to those who gave up years of their lives in service to their country. "In doing so, they endured hardship, loneliness, loss of friends and without a doubt, had their lives changed forever because of that service,” Martin said. “It is also important to recognize and thank the Gold Star families for their loved ones’ ultimate sacrifice.”
Originally held in 1974, the WC Veterans Day Ceremony became an annual event in 2009 to honor all the veteran students who have attended or will attend WC. “We never want to forget the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Veterans’ Coordinator Ralph Willingham. “WC veterans have transferred to many different universities and entered the workforce in almost every occupation. Since 2009 the Veterans Day Ceremony has been the highlight of the year.”
Between 400 and 500 community members attend the event each year, and with this year’s special recognition planned, participation is anticipated to be even larger. “Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 will be noted as a very special day in the history of Weatherford College ,” Willingham said.