U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, of Knox County, was one of the 13 American service members who were killed when Muslim terrorists attacked the Kabul airport.“Tennessee has lost a son and a hero,” Sen. Bill Hagerty announced on Twitter. “Please join me in praying for the family and friends of Ryan Knauss, who gave his life protecting others.”
The 23-year-old staff sergeant was born and raised in the Volunteer State and he joined the Army right out of high school.
The news came as “quite a shock,” Evelena Knauss, his grandmother, told The Daily Beast. “We were led to think that it was 12 Marines and one Navy, and we knew our grandson was in the Army. So we were praying for the families of the Marines, not knowing our grandson was one of the ones who lost his life… You just don’t think it will be yours, I’m sure that you’ve heard that before.”
Tennessee has lost a son and a hero. Please join me in praying for the family and friends of Ryan Knauss who gave his life protecting others. pic.twitter.com/xL7PJRjYwP— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) August 28, 2021
We at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office extend our sincere condolences and heartfelt prayers to the family of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss. Ryan, a Gibbs High Graduate gave his life in service to our Country on 8/26/21. He will not be forgotten. 🇺🇸
-Tom Spangler, Sheriff
— knoxsheriff (@knoxsheriff) August 28, 2021
Ryan Knauss gave his life outside Hamid Karzai International Airport helping people he didn’t know get to safety. This is what true heroism looks like and Ryan’s sacrifice will never be forgotten. The Knauss family is in my prayers. https://t.co/b9ub3NW3TD
— Rep. Tim Burchett (@RepTimBurchett) August 27, 2021
“And then he was deployed back on this mission,” she said. “He had just completed a course of psychological operations… Making quite impressive steps in the military. Very bright and very committed. Driven… Young.”
“It’s been a very sad day for us. It shouldn’t have had to happen this way.”
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said in a statement “Ryan embodies American heroism — saving people he had never met before, in the face of persistent evil. We will never forget his sacrifice in service to his country.
“While no words could ever be enough, I join Tennesseans — and all Americans — in extending my deepest condolences to Ryan’s family. Chuck and I are praying for them during this time of unimaginable pain and loss.”
There’s been an outpouring of support from those who knew him. His former high school principal, Jason Webster, said Afghanistan suddenly feels a lot closer to home, television station WBIR reports.
“I mean, I shook his hand,” he said. “I handed him the diploma and to know that he was going to sacrifice for me is just unbelievable.”