Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss remembered

By Jamie Schnell

On September 11th, we remember the heroes that have sacrificed their own lives. This year, we remember 13 more that died while serving in Afghanistan. One of those heroes, Staff Sergeant Ryan Christian Knauss, died from injuries sustained in the August 26 airport bombing in Kabul.  Saturday afternoon, hundreds from the community gathered to remember the Corryton native at a memorial service held at the Gibbs High School football stadium.

The bleachers, roads and fences were filled with attendees from all over the country. Attendees included active members and veterans from all military branches, families with children of all ages, and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. Within the silence of heartbreak and bagpipes, they all watched as our soldier arrived.

Speakers at the service included Ryan’s father and 1st Sergeant Patrick Jeffrey. The priest reminded us that Ryan was a “servant and a soldier” who had a deep desire to “do good.”

Greg Knauss pointed out “the bonding of service members” as Ryan’s fellow soldiers stepped in unison to fill the seats around the family. Reflecting on Ryan’s return home to Tennessee, he said, “It was the most humbling and heartwarming thing I’ve ever experienced.”

1st Sergeant Jeffrey spoke of Ryan’s dream of being in the military. How he had the “fire in him to serve.” He gave insight into who Ryan was, his “sense of humor, smile, and uniformed look of baseball cap and sunglasses.” He described him as a “fierce friend, full of integrity and unmatched grit.” Of how he would speak of his wife, Alena “with the softest of words.” And how he was the “best soldier he ever had the privilege of working with.”

Through their heartbreak, we were provided a glimpse into the strength of the Knauss family. After the memorial service, the Knauss family welcomed guests for hours in the gym, shaking hands, hugging, and speaking on the life of their beloved Ryan.

As Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss lay in repose, his wife stood by her husband. As attendees exchanged condolences, she lovingly told the children how her husband loved vegetables.  Through this line, we witnessed the sacrifice of not only his life, but the sacrifice of the dreams with his wife and family.

At the end of the line waited Ryan’s mother, Paula, who shared, “He was a God-loving man. He died helping over 3,000 people. He died doing what he loved to do.”

On behalf of America, we thank you for your son’s sacrifice.