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Fallen Soldier passes through county

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, the body of Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, age 23, of Corryton, Tennessee, passed through Pulaski County on the way to Arlington National Cemetery.

SSG Knauss, a member of the 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, lost his life as one of the 13 U.S. Service Members killed in the Aug. 26, 2021, suicide bombing at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan.

After a brief ceremony at Fort Bragg, SSG Knauss was transported to his hometown for a memorial service. His body has now been transported to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be buried with full military honors.

News of his processional began spreading on social media sites Wednesday evening. With little information initially available, James Ridpath, Post Commander of VFW 1184 in Pulaski, began making phone calls. Joe Cruff, also of VFW 1184, began spreading the word on Facebook as well. By late evening Wednesday, the word was getting around the Veteran community, but there still wasn’t a lot of information to share yet.

Thursday morning, word came from the Virginia State Police that gave a rough timeline. Ridpath enlisted the help of Pulaski County fire stations, who quickly made the decision to bring out the big trucks and flags. Local law enforcement offices became involved as well, and then the decision was made to close off the overpass bridges that cross over Interstate-81 to put the firetrucks and flags up.

Several local businesses also became involved, bringing out tow trucks either to the overpasses or parking on the side of the interstate with American Flags prominently displayed. Others joined in, paying their respects to SSG Knauss as his vehicle passed.

As the body of SSG Knauss passed through Pulaski County on I-81, the hearse carrying his body was escorted by Virginia State Police vehicles and motorcycles. That scene was continued from Bristol, where the procession entered the Commonwealth, until they reached their final destination in Arlington.

At times, the police escort was larger, but each time a new locality took over escort duty, it was done efficiently and with dignity for the occasion. Social media posts from communities along the I-81 corridor clearly show those communities paying the same respect to the processional as it passed through their areas.

SSG Ryan Knauss will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 1 p.m.

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