Colonel Danny R. McKnight was a distinguished military graduate from Florida State University in 1973. He graduated with a B.S. in Management, then completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne and Ranger Schools.
Colonel McKnight was assigned to the Mountain Ranger Camp in March 1974 where he served as a company Executive Officer and Instructor. Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Advance Course, he served in Korea as a Battalion Adjutant and was Aide-De-Camp to the Commanding General, 2D Infantry Division.
Following the Korea tour, Colonel McKnight returned to Fort Benning where he served as Aide-De-Camp for the same General officer who was the Commanding General at Fort Benning. While at Fort Benning, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion 58th Infantry (MECH) where he commanded Company C for 22 months. Next he was assigned as an assistant professor of Military Science at the University of Florida ROTC Department. While at the University, Col. McKnight earned his Masters degree in higher education and administration.
He then attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Following this, Col. McKnight returned to Fort Benning where he served as the Adjutant, 75th Ranger Regiment; S3, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment; and Executive Officer, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Col. McKnight departed Fort Benning for Schofield Barracks, Hawaii where he commanded 4-27th Infantry for 19 months. Upon his return from Hawaii, he assumed command of 3rd Ranger Battalion on 11 February, 1993 where he commanded for 17 months. He then attended the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, PA. After graduation from the War College, he was assigned as the Senior Adviser at the 29th Infantry Division, Fort Belvoir, VA. He then assumed duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Training, First U.S. Army, Fort Gillem, GA. For 2 years.
Col. McKnight's final assignment was as the Chief of Staff, First U.S. Army, Serving for 19th months before retiring on January 1, 2002.
Operation Lion Claws series was founded in 2002 with support from US Army Ranger Col. (ret) Danny McKnight and Vietnam veteran LRRP Sgt. Kenn Miller with Col. McKnight continued to support the series by lending his Somalia experience to create Operation IRENE.
When I first approached Col. McKnight about having him at the event as an American hero, Col. told me that it's not possible. Col. McKnight told me that by addressing him as a "hero" that he and I already fundamentally disagreed...
"I'm not a hero, my men who gave their lives in Somalia were the real heroes." Col. McKnight insisted on honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but not him.
We are extremely grateful to Col. McKnight who graciously affords us two weekends a year to pay tribute to service men and women; one at our event flagship, Operation Lion Claws, the other one at Operation IRENE, an op that's very close to his heart.
Col. McKnight and the other event VIPs took the sport of airsoft from illegal street games to highly respectable tactical challenge experiences on military installations.