AIKEN, S.C. (May 22, 2018) – A bond built at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is the reason for Savannah River Remediation (SRR) employee and U.S. military veteran Joe Knick’s active support for veterans through the Augusta, Georgia, Vietnam War Memorial Initiative (VWMI).
VMI Freshman Knick met senior Jack W. Kennedy in 1968 when Knick decided he wanted to serve his country and enroll in military college. It was the same year the military suffered more than 16,000 casualities in the Vietnam War.
Knick and Kennedy were both on the wrestling team and in a Echo company. Knick respected Kennedy, who was the co-captain of the team and Echo company leader
Knick returned from Air Force training prior to his senior year at VMI to learn Kennedy had become Missing in Action (MIA) in August 1971. Kennedy was flying a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam..
The next time Knick would see Kennedy’s name would be as an MIA on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
“I visited the Vietnam traveling memorial wall the first time it came to Augusta, Georgia. I told the volunteers I was looking for Jack Kennedy and they pointed me to a panel where I saw his name. The volunteers asked me to leave my address,” Knick said.
“Two weeks later I received a letter from Jack’s mother asking if I could share anything I knew about her son.”
Knick continued receiving letters from Mrs. Kennedy. In 1993, she told Knick that Jack’s expected remains were recovered, and in 1995 with improved DNA techniques, the remains were positively identified as Jack Kennedy.
This experience encouraged Knick to support veteran memorial efforts. Knick now serves as the Project Engineer and Chair of the Design and Engraving Subcommittee for SRR Employee and Air Force Veteran Supports Veteran Causes VWMI, the proposed Vietnam War memorial in downtown Augusta.
Currently leading the project design, Knick said the monument will honor names of the 160 military service members of the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. Months of intensive research went into the design to ensure historical accuracy, aesthetic appeal, and proper reverence and respect for those who made the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam, as well as those Vietnam veterans who were fortunate enough to return. The VWMI began raising funds for the memorial in November 2017.
After leaving the Air Force, Knick has since spent his career in construction and commercial nuclear field prior to 29 years at the Savannah River Site (SRS), where he is currently the SRR Functional Project Controls Manager. Knick attributes his long-term career at SRS to his short, yet impactful, time in the Air Force.
“The military helped me mature as an individual at a young age,” Knick said. “And today, my experience in the military has helped me bring awareness to Americans about the ultimate sacrifices paid by soldiers. Let us never forget those who serve, who served, and those who never made it home.”
For more information about the VWMI and Augusta, Georgia, Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars, visit http://vwmi-augusta.org/.
SRR is the liquid waste contractor at SRS for the U.S. Department of Energy. SRR is composed of a team of companies led by AECOM with partners Bechtel National, CH2M, and BWX Technologies. Critical subcontractors for the contract are AREVA, Atkins, and AECOM N&E Technical Services.