Eglin airman killed during survival training

Maj. Garrett Wayne Knowlan

Maj. Garrett Wayne Knowlan, 32, passed away Oct. 11 while participating in a water survival training exercise in Pensacola, Fla.

Special to the Daily News
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 01:12 PM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — An Eglin airman killed Oct. 11 during a four-day water survival course will be buried Saturday in his hometown of Jackson, Mo.

Maj. Garrett Knowlan’s death is under investigation, according to a 96th Test Wing press release. Though he died last week, the news was not released by the Air Force until Wednesday morning.

His family declined to be interviewed.

Knowlan lived in Shalimar with his wife, Megan Knowlan, and their two sons, Beckett and Levi, according to an obituary published in the Southeast Missourian.

His parents, Jack and Bonnie Knowlan, still live in Missouri.

Knowlan, who was assigned to the 96th Test Wing, was participating in Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The four-day course includes instruction on signaling rescue aircraft and procuring food and water, as well as training on hazardous water life and medical aspects of water survival and life raft procedures. Students also parasail to simulate in-flight emergencies over water, according to a fact sheet for U.S. Air Force Survival School.

No information has been released concerning his death.

The 32-year-old was the executive officer for Brig. Gen. David Harris, commander of the 96th Test Wing.

During his years in the Air Force, he received numerous commendations and had been assigned to McChord Air Force Base, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Eglin.

He was a 2002 graduate of the Air Force Academy and a 2010 graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School.

In his obituary, Knowlan is described as a hard-working, outstanding young Christian man, who was a “life force” for his wife and young sons.

“Garrett’s death is an unfathomable loss to his family, his friends and his country,” the obituary reads. “His death raises many difficult questions that seem impossible to answer.”

The obituary then cites two verses Knowlan had outlined in his Bible.

One was Philippians 1:10-21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” reads a portion of this verse.

The second, believed to be a message to his wife and sons, was 1 Peter 4:12.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you,” the verse begins.

“But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

Contact Daily News Staff Writer Wendy Victora at 850-315-4478 or Follow her on Twitter @WendyVnwfdn

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top

Local Faves