KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The body of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss is back home. Many showed their support for the serviceman who was among the 13 killed in the bombing outside of the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan.
For many, the loss hit close to home.
“When I pulled onto this exit, his family is exactly what I thought of because … I understand how that would feel,” Brittany Teitelbaum said with tears in her eyes.
“Our brother served in the same special ops unit as Ryan Knauss at Fort Bragg,” Teitelbaum’s sister Kelsey Kumz said. “Same battalion, same deployment. We can’t imagine not being here today to support.”
Paula Miller has two sons who have served for more than six years in the military. She, too, came to pay respects to Knauss and his family.
The two say they’re proud of their brother, and the loss of Knauss reminded them that this procession could have been for their own brother.
“He’s our hero,” Kumz said.
“He’s been in about 10 years now and served in Afghanistan as well,” Teitelbaum said.
Miller is a proud mom of two military servicemen and feels the heartbreak the Knauss family is having to bear.
“One is in the Navy,” Miller said. “He’s a rescue swimmer and the other is in the Air Force and just got back from overseas.”
Miller said she came out to the procession to show the Knauss family that they’re not alone.
“We’ll never forget their son,” she said. “We’ll never forget them, and they’re just honored.
“A lot of times you just hear about it on the news. To be here it’s very real.”
The Snell family wanted to use this as a teaching moment for their daughter to show her that freedom isn’t free.
“We want to thank him and his family for his sacrifice, and we’re just so sorry for their loss,” Elizabeth Snell said as she held her daughter.
Elizabeth added Knauss’ death is a reminder to respect those who serve.
“We’re just thankful that people still want to serve our country,” she said.
The Knauss family will be having a private ceremony on Friday.
A public memorial will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at Gibbs High School. Before the service, there will be a procession beginning at Mynatt Funeral Home’s East Emory Road chapel.
The procession is expected to arrive at Gibbs High School around 4:30 p.m. After the service, the public is invited to pay its respects in the Gibbs High School gymnasium. The use of cellphones will not be permitted.