KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Wednesday was a solemn day at Gibbs High School when state lawmakers and the school community honored a former servicemember who died in Kabul. Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss graduated from the school and was a member of its ROTC program.
In the short ceremony, state leaders presented a portrait to the school to remember his service and sacrifice. Friends and family of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss were also there to witness the dedication.
"He was a leader in that group. His leadership in that program is what I remembered the most,” said Jason Webster, the principal of Gibbs High School.
He walked the halls of Gibbs High School, knowing one day he would enlist in the U.S. Army.
"We again, honor someone who begged his mom to come to Gibbs High School so he could join junior ROTC because he couldn't do that in the school he was at,” said Paula Knauss Selph, the mother of the fallen soldier.
After Knauss graduated, he achieved his lifelong dream of serving in the military. He was 23 years old when he died during evacuations near the Kabul airport as the U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan.
It has almost been a year since Knauss was killed. To honor him, state leaders presented a portrait of Knauss to his alma mater, where his training for the military began.
"We want the family to know, we want the world to know, we will never ever forget," they said. "It's another in the long line of great honors to have his picture. It is going to be posted here in the school."
Since Knauss died, the Knox County community has shown their support and appreciation aplenty, and as people walk past the portrait, his family and friends hope it is a reminder of his service.
"We will forever have our roots here, and Ryan will never be forgotten here," said organizers of the event.