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David Thomas McKnight


David Thomas McKnight’s career as a patriot began at age 18 when he enlisted in the National Guard – 101st Cavalry Regiment (NY).

His early interest in aviation shaped his later life in many ways. “Boy, that’s just the beginning of a million. My flying time is now five minutes.” - Those words were from 17-year old Dave McKnight, written in his diary on July 20, 1929 after saving up enough money to take his first flying lesson. He took to the air at Roosevelt Field on Long Island. In 1933 he flew a friend to Skaneateles, New York where he landed in a farmer's field, met the owner’s daughter, Grace Lucille Evans, fell in love and later married her on September 5, 1936.

His interest in aviation also led him to becoming a flight instructor in the Royal Canadian Air Force before America joined the war effort. His flying and teaching skills, coupled with his natural leadership ability, prepared him for an extraordinary early role in organizing, training, and leading B-17 aerial operations over Europe during World War II as a Squadron Commander and Group Air Operations Officer in the 95th Bomb Group. He flew on 32 missions with the 95th BG on 23 different aircraft.

After World War II, he and his family moved about the U.S. as his career developed. His family returned to Skaneateles while Colonel McKnight commanded the 56th Fighter Wing in 1949 and the 49th Fighter Wing in Korea in 1950-51.

Later he served as a faculty member at the Armed Forces Staff College and was again a Wing Commander of the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing in the early ‘60s on the first line of defense in Germany near the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Colonel David Thomas McKnight, United States Air Force, Retired, died June 30, 1999 in Skaneateles, NY. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.



  • Claude Anderson

    Military | Lieutenant | Command Navigator | 95th Bomb Group
    95th Bomb Group, 412th Bomb Squadron April 44 to September 44, 35 missions with the Roy Gielen crew and then with the Lyle Scott crew. Returned to the states to train new crews, then went inactive while he returned to college and later medical school....

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Units served with

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

  • 335th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-102427

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 2/3/44. Kearney 25/3/44. Grenier 2/4/44. Assigned 336BS/95BG [ET-C] Horham 7/4/44 Battle damaged Mainz 9/10/44 with Taylor; force landed France, 9RTD. Salvaged 14/11/44.

  • 42-29807 LADY LIBERTY

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 21/2/43; Gore 7/3/43; New Castle 6/4/43; Dow Fd 12/4/43; Assigned 334BS/95BG [BG-B] Alconbury 15/4/43 PATSY ANN; Framlingham 12/5/43; Horham 15/6/43; 5m, transferred 364BS/305BG [WF-O] Chelveston 17/6/43; Missing in Action Gilze...

  • 42-30178 "Darlin' Dolly"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/4/43; Smoky Hill 5/5/43; Presque Is 24/5/43; Assigned 335BS/95BG [OE-S] Framlingham 29/5/43; Horham 15/6/43; with J.E. Koehler force landed Hardwick AF 20/10/43; 45m, transferred 388BG APH Knettishall 4/44; 803BS RCM Oulton 16/5...

  • 42-30194 'We Ain't Scared'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/4/43; Gore Fd 25/4/43; Smoky Hill 12/5/43; Tinker 25/5/43; Smoky Hill 29/5/43; Dow Field 1/6/43. Assigned 91BG Bassingbourn 15/6/43; transferred 335BS/95BG [OE-O] Horham 16/6/43 (8 missions). "WE AIN'T SCARED". ...

  • 42-30226 'Spook V'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 30/4/43; Gore 14/5/43; Kearney 27/5/43; Tinker 1/6/43; Dow Fd 6/6/43; Assigned 336BS/95BG [ET-L] Horham 15/6/43; 36m, Missing in Action Frankfurt 29/1/44 with Jim Higgins, Navigator: Don Gallagher, Bombardier: Vern Archibald, Flight...

  • 42-30235 'Lonesome Polecat' 'Zoot Suiters'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 3/5/43; Gore 16/5/43; Smoky Hill 17/5/43; Dow Fd 30/5/43; Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-L/Z] Bassingbourn 6/6/43; transferred 412BS/95BG [QW-U] Horham 16/6/43 LONESOME POLECAT; 16/9/43 with W.C. Lindley force landed Bungay Afd; 48m,...

  • 42-30255 'Lonesome Polecat II'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 4/5/43; Smoky Hill 14/5/43; Tinker 25/5/43; Smoky Hill 29/5/43; Dow Fd 31/5/43; Assigned 351BG Polebrook 10/6/43; transferred 412BS/95BG [QW-V] Horham 16/6/43; battle damage on 13/11/43 Ball turret gunner: E.J. Castona (wia), Tail...

  • 42-30271 'Bomb Boogie'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 7/5/43; Gore 8/5/43; Smoky Hill 17/5/43; Dow Fd 30/5/43; Assigned 379BG Kimbolton 6/6/43; transferred 335BS/95BG [OE-R] Horham 28/6/43; 7m, Missing in Action Stuttgart 6/9/43 with Glen Ransom, Bombardier: Keith Murray, Ball turret...

  • 42-30286 SPOOK IV

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/5/43; Gore 24/5/43; Smoky Hill 25/5/43; Kearney 27/5/43; Dow Fd 2/6/43; Assigned 336BS/95BG [ET-M] Horham 15/6/43; 2m, Missing in Action St Nazaire 28/6/43 with Bob Bender, Co-pilot: Don Merten, Navigator: Jacob Baer, Bombardier:...

  • 42-31057

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 13/9/43; Assigned 334BS/95BG [BG-G] Horham 29/9/43; 10m 16/12/43, with Larry Kerr, Co-pilot: John Murphy, Navigator: Murray Ball, Bombardier: Ed Harty, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Marion Brace, Radio Operator: Howard Pollard,...

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Associated Place

  • Horham

    Military site : airfield
    Horham airfield was planned and built for RAF use, but handed over to the Eighth Air Force and used initially by the 47th Bomb Group. When they joined the Twelfth Air Force in January 1943, it became home to the B-26 Marauders of the 323rd Bomb Group....


Event Location Date
Born Brooklyn, NY 17 January 1912
Enlisted 1930

Enlisted in the National Guard, 101st Cavalry (New York)

Enlisted Brooklyn, New York 9 January 1937

Enlisted in the Army Air Corp

Died Skaneateles, New York 30 June 1999
Buried Arlington National Cemetery 30 July 1999


Date Contributor Update
20 April 2022 20:08:16 Douglas P Changes to media associations

Added Media Associations

Date Contributor Update
20 April 2022 20:05:27 Douglas P Changes to nickname, service number, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events, place associations, aircraft associations and media associations

Date Contributor Update
14 July 2020 08:17:50 mwaocdoc Changes to service number

Added service number from Army and Air Force Register, 1948 Vol. I

Date Contributor Update
14 July 2020 08:15:20 mwaocdoc Changes to middlename and awards

Added some of his medals from his biography

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:07:07 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /