Jack Knight

SurnameKnight
Given NameJack
Born29 May 1917
Died2 Feb 1945
CountryUnited States
CategoryMilitary-Ground
GenderMale

Contributor:

ww2dbaseJack L. Knight was born to Roy and Martha Knight in Garner, Texas, United States. After graduating from Weatherford Junior College in 1938, Knight and his two brothers, Curtis and Loyd, enlisted in Troop F, 124th Cavalry Regiment (Special), Texas National Guard, based out of Mineral Wells. The 124th Cavalry was transferred to India in 1940, unmounted to become an infantry unit and was incorporated into the 5332nd Brigade (Provisional) "Mars Task Force".

ww2dbaseOn 2 Feb 1945, near Loi-Kang, Burma, First Lieutenant Knight led his troops up a hill, killing two Japanese soldiers en route while charging fully exposed, yelling "[t]here's nothing up here, come on!" As his men moved forward cautiously, Knight scouted the frontlines alone, taking out a pillbox with a grenade in the process. However, Knight soon discovered they were surrounded on three sides by a U-shaped enemy formation, and decided he must lead his men to back out of the ambush. Despite shrapnel wound to his face that nearly blinded him with blood, he led an attack which took down another enemy position. A Japanese grenade wounded him, dropping him to the ground, and his brother Curtis attempted to run to his side to aid him, but was wounded by machine gun fire in the process. Knight ordered some of his men to get his brother out of harm's way, while Knight himself ran up to the sixth pillbox he attacked during the battle. As he ran toward the sixth pillbox, he was killed by Japanese rifle fire.

ww2dbaseFor the brave at the battle that was later christened the Battle of Knight's Hill by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Knight was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the only Medal of Honor awarded to the infantry in the China-Burma-India theater. Colonel William Osborne, commander of the 124th Cavalry, said

the action of Lieutenant Knight in leading his troop against a strong enemy will always remain as the finest example of American courage, valor, and leadership of any officer I have had under my command. It is officers of Lieutenant Knight's caliber who are winning the war-not colonels and generals.

ww2dbaseKnight's 6 Jun 1945 Medal of Honor citation read as follows:

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. Singlehandedly 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. First Lieutenant Knight's gallantry and intrepidity were responsible for the successful elimination of most of the Japanese positions and served as an inspiration to officers and men of his troop.

ww2dbaseOn 14 Oct 1972, Mountbatten dedicated a marble marker at Mineral Wells, Texas to honor Knight and the rest of the Troop F of the 124th Cavalry Regiment (Special). Knight rests in peace at Holders Memorial Chapel Cemetery at Cool, Texas.

ww2dbaseSources: Vinegar Joe's War, World War II US Cavalry Units.

Jack Knight Timeline

29 May 1917 Jack Knight was born.
2 Feb 1945 Lieutenant Jack L. Knight of Mars Task Force led an attack up a 400-foot only to find at the summit that they had entered a horseshoe shaped Japanese strongpoint. Wounded several times and with carbine ammunition exhausted, Knight organized another attack and was finally killed whilst tackling a sixth bunker. For his gallantry, Knight would ultimately be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, the only such infantry award made in the China-Burma-India theatre of war.




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