NO. 17851 •
Killed December 12, 1951, in a plane crash near Honshu, Japan. Aged 23 Years.
DEATH is never a pleasant subject to dwell on and I for one am sure it never entered Elliot’s mind that clear December morning when he took off from Johnson Air Force Base on a routine air to ground gunnery mission. Less than five weeks ago, he had bid farewell to his loving wife, Louise, and had come to Japan ‑ as a jet pilot with the rest of his class from Williams Air Force Base. Now he was finishing up his training in preparation for Korea and actual combat missions. As Elliott was coming up from his second pass at a ground target, his plane seemed to disintegrate. The tail section flew off of his F‑80 and he went spinning into the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean some 200 yards off shore. Thus uncompromising death ended the life of one human and put a void in the lives of many others. His mother, his wife, Louise, and his sister, Barbara ‑ all suffered a great tragedy; and his friends, who knew and loved El will never forget him.
Elliott was a man worth knowing. In all the years of our friendship, I never once saw him discouraged or unsmiling. Whether the problem was getting a weekend pass or passing a flying proficiency check, he always looked on the optimistic side. All of his friends knew of his eversmiling outlook, and he always encouraged those with whom he mixed.
Perhaps lesser known were the reasons for his sincerity and friendship. From the time El learned to talk, he loved to mix with people. An active member of the Boy Scouts, he learned from others, advanced to become an Eagle Scout, and then taught others younger than himself. At an early age he developed first an admiration for West Point and then, an intense desire to go there. That ambition was realized when he entered the Military Academy in 1946. His aim then changed to becoming a Jet pilot and this he also accomplished. With life running in such a smooth pattern for El, it isn't hard to realize why he was so continually happy. Happiness isn't so much getting what you want, however, as it is in wanting what you get. There were many disappointments in his life. His main disappointment was the separation from his wife when he was assigned overseas. He and Louise had built up a wonderful future in their dreams and none of it envisaged their separation. Still, when duty called, El temporarily postponed the fulfilling ‑ to be buried deep inside his heart. No one, especially El himself, knew his postponement would become a cancellation.
The mortal remains of Elliott Reynolds Knott were recovered and returned to West Point, where he lies today in the Post Cemetery. Having been cheated out of his first love, that of his wife, he will be a permanent part of his second love ‑ West Point.
"Here he lies where he longs to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea;
And the hunter, home from the hills."
-F. E. T.