First Lieutenant Jack L. Knight, USA/TXNG (February 2, 1945)

Jack Llewellyn Knight was born on May 29, 1917 in Garver, Texas. He was a member of the Texas National Guard and was federalized for United States Army service with his unit – Troop F, 2nd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regimenton November 18, 1940. The 124th Cavalry was the last horse-mounted cavalry unit of the Army, and for much of the early years of World War II, was deployed for border security (imagine that!) between Texas and Mexico.

In the summer of 1944, the 124th gave up their horses and deployed for combat in the China-Burma-India theater, one of the lesser known battlefields of the war. They arrived in Burma on October 31, 1944, reconfigured as a long-range penetration infantry unit, but keeping their “cavalry” designation. Their role, with accompanying forces, was to open the “Burma Road” for supply shipments from India to China.

On February 2, 1945, then-First Lieutenant Knight, in command of Troop F, single handedly destroyed two Japanese fixed positions and was leading an attack on a third when he was killed in action. His was the only Medal of Honor awarded for ground combat in the “CBI” area.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (G-L):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*KNIGHT, JACK L.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Mars Task Force. Place and date: Near Loi-Kang, Burma, 2 February 1945
Entered service at: Weatherford, Tex. G.O. No.: 44, 6 June 1945

Citation: He led his cavalry troop against heavy concentrations of enemy mortar, artillery, and small arms fire. After taking the troop’s objective and while making preparations for a defense, he discovered a nest of Japanese pillboxes and foxholes to the right front. Preceding his men by at least 10 feet, he immediately led an attack Single-handedly he knocked out 2 enemy pillboxes and killed the occupants of several foxholes. While attempting to knock out a third pillbox, he was struck and blinded by an enemy grenade. Although unable to see, he rallied his platoon and continued forward in the assault on the remaining pillboxes. Before the task was completed he fell mortally wounded. 1st Lt. Knight’s gallantry and intrepidity were responsible for the successful elimination of most of the Jap positions and served as an inspiration to officers and men of his troop.

Knight’s remains were returned to his native Texas and laid to rest in the Holders Chapel Cemetery of Cool, Texas.

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