Valdosta Daily Times

January 15, 2013

'Cold War Warrior: A Memoir'

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

LAKE PARK — The subtitle draws readers immediately into area author Warren “Molly” Knight’s book, “Cold War Warrior: A Memoir.”

The subtitle reads: “From: Clerk Typist To: Spy To: U.S. Air Force First Sergeant.”

Describing himself as an all-American boy from North Carolina, the book shares Knight’s work at the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

“As a Russian linguist in the United States Air Force Security Service, Warren Knight bore witness to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the U-2 incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and an adversary’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile test,” according to information from the book.

Knight shares stories of assignments to a listening post on a Far East island as well as a jungle survival course in the Philippines. He joined the military in 1951 and served in the Korean War. For the next 26 years, until the late 1970s, he served as an Air Force “intelligence asset.”

He blends personal history with national and world history in a readable, compelling, you-are-there style.

He wanted to write the book now because Knight felt like he could finally share his experiences.

“As I said in the book, a young man leaves home for military service and through various turns of events finds himself flying in recon-planes in hostile environments, and he can’t even tell his mom and dad what he’s doing,” Knight says.

Older readers will be reminded of the Cold War’s perils while younger readers may come to better understand them.

“The Cold War was far more dangerous than most people realize,” Knight told The Times. “Never before or since has the whole world been on the brink of total annihilation. For decades, the U.S. and the Soviet Union stood toe to toe, each holding devastating explosives with very short fuses. It is nothing short of miraculous that the Cuban Missile Crisis did not see the use of nuclear weapons.”

Yet, even amidst the danger, Knight shares stories of a young man discovering the thrills of life, the passion for being involved.

“Flying was the thrill of a lifetime,” he says. “We were in customized aircraft containing the most sophisticated aerial reconnaissance equipment in the world, flying in places that were jam-packed with air defenses bent on taking us out. There were 12 shoot-downs by the Soviet of U.S. Recon during the period of the Cold War.”

As for what event had the most impact on him, given the vast panorama of history and personal situations, it’s impossible to say.

“I was witness to so much history — the construction of the Berlin Wall, Soviet nuclear tests, the crisis in Cuba, the U-2 incident, the loss of friends in fatal crashes, Vietnam,” Knight says, “How does one pick from such a list?”

Now 81, Knight moved to Lake Park in June 2003. His wife, Ellen, was from Valdosta; she passed away Feb. 11, 2008.

His military service defined his career.

“Serving my country for nearly 30 years was a singular honor,” Knight says. “Nothing else in my lifetime compares.”

To order Warren “Molly” Knight’s “Cold War Warrior: A Memoir,” call (301) 228-3853. Or visit