Dr. Jim Knight
U.S. Army medic
Two Purple Hearts (three, but he gave one back); two commendation medals for valor; Combat Medic Badge; and Airborne Wings
February 15, 1944-February 18, 2019
Jim was born in Northville, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, to Beatrice Anna Johnson Knight and Harry Marvin Knight. He was the fifth of six children. After graduating from Manchester High School in Manchester, MI, he sold his family’s dairy farm to enlist in the Army in March 1965.
After training, he volunteered as a Special Forces Medic. He deployed in April 1965 to the A Team Medic detachment in Dak Seang. There on July 5, his patrol was ambushed. Jim and another U.S. soldier were shot and the 20 Montagnards on patrol with them survived. He was shipped to Quin Nhon hospital, then to a hospital in Japan, then Fort Knox, KY, where he spent 4 months in the hospital. Dissatisfied with being only a patient, he convinced the hospital administration to allow him to work as a corpsman (nurse), hobbling around the hospital with a cast on his leg. After leaving the hospital, he went to Fort Bragg to complete his tour of duty in the motor pool and was honorably discharged on July 11, 1967. He received two commendation medals for valor, two Purple Hearts (shot in the leg and shrapnel in his head and shoulder), Combat Medic Badge, and Airborne Wings. He was actually awarded three Purple Hearts, but he gave one back because he didn’t think the wounds he sustained in that incident were worthy of a medal.
In March 1967 he entered the Michigan State University pre-vet curriculum and graduated from MSU Veterinary School in December 1973. As a co-owner of two hospitals, he practiced at Academy West Animal Hospital in Glendale, AZ, for 12 years. When he moved to Massachusetts, he worked for the USDA for 2 years, then in private practice at various hospitals. He also worked for six non-profits, including the Arizona Humane Society, the Animal Rescue League of Boston and the CT Mobile Van TEAM: Pait’s Every Animal Matters, and TJ O’Connor Animal Shelter. This was followed by 13 years at Becker College in Leicester, where he was the Director of the Animal Studies Program. He developed four bacheloreate degrees: lab animal management, equine studies, the pre-veterinary program and the bachelor of veterinary science degree. He also developed five courses including Animals and Society, Human and Animal Health, and Disaster Preparedness.
Subsequently, he taught at North West Community College as director of veterinary technology and Worcester Polytech in lab animal surgery.
He served as MVMA president in 2004 and was chair of five committees including liaison to the Massachusetts Medical Society for the One Health Initiative. He was Veterinarian of the Year for 2006.
In the summers of 2005, 2006, and 2007, he was in Kabul, Afghanistan, serving as consultant to the veterinary school in their efforts to rebuild their program. This effort arose through the Dutch Committee of Afghanistan, with the help of Dr. David Sherman, former Massachusetts State Veterinarian. Jim’s animal rescue work continued in Afghanistan through his cooperation with Tigger House, a rescue organization directed by Pam Constable, Washington Post reporter in DC, and the director of Tigger House.
In Jim’s own words, he “crashed” on January 5, 2018, when he awoke with neuropathy of the hands and feet. He was eventually diagnosed with multiple myeloma stemming from agent orange exposure in Viet Nam. He was his oncologists’ star patient, doing very well considering neuropathy, the need for a pacemaker and having three discs fused in his neck — all between January and March of 2018. Then in February 2019, he got pneumonia and influenza A. He walked into the hospital on February 14th in good spirits, the day before his birthday, suffered a stroke on the 16th and died peacefully, with his wife at his side, on February 18th.
He leaves a son David in Arizona; a step-son Sean in Manhattan; a brother Dan and his wife Carolyn in W. Virginia; his beloved Greyhound Hannah Rose; and his fellow farm worker, veterinary colleague, and wife Anne Rylestone.