Portrait of fallen soldier, Staff Sgt. Ryan Christian Knauss, to hang in Gibbs High School
Corryton, TN (Knox Co.) – Lt. Governor Randy McNally, Senator Becky Massey, Representative Dave Wright, Representative Michelle Carringer, and Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr., recently presented a portrait memorializing U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Christian Knauss during a special ceremony to honor the memory of the Gibbs High School graduate. Accompanying the portrait is a framed resolution passed by the Tennessee General Assembly.
SSG Ryan Christian Knauss was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021, by a suicide bomber while evacuating innocent civilians at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Upon graduating from Gibbs High School, where he served in the ROTC program, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. SSG Knauss was the last American soldier to die in Afghanistan.
“Today we honor someone who begged to go to Gibbs High School, so he could join the ROTC, because he couldn’t do that in the school he was at,” said Paula Knauss Selph, Ryan’s mother. “We honor Ryan, and we honor those who will be serving in the military in the future. We don’t forget that they take up where he’s left off.” [video]
Joining the presentation were Commissioner Richie Beeler, Chairman of the Knox County Board of Commissioners; Gibbs High Principal Jason Webster; Knox County School Board member Mike McMillian; and several members of the Knauss family.
“The staff of the Tennessee Department of Treasury was deeply affected by the death of Staff Sergeant Knauss and felt compelled to honor him in every way that we could,” Treasurer Lillard said. “This portrait will help memorialize for all current and future students at Gibbs High School, and the people of Corryton, the life, service, honor, and ultimate sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Ryan Christian Knauss.” [video]
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a resolution in October 2021 to honor SSG Knauss. Sponsored by Sen. Becky Massey with 30 additional co-sponsors in the Senate and 90 co-sponsors in the Tennessee House of Representatives, the resolution was signed, framed, and presented to Gibbs High School.
“The words of this resolution, while they are only words on a piece of parchment, represent the feelings and thoughts of all Tennesseans,” Lt. Gov. McNally said. “We thank Ryan for his sacrifice and for the effort he made to take women and children to safety.” [video]
“This is a solemn occasion, but it’s an important occasion,” Sen. Massey said. “We want the family to know, we want the community to know, and we want the world to know that we will never, ever forget.” [video]
“We are very honored and humbled,” said Ryan’s father, Greg Knauss. “We are very appreciative of what the State Treasurer’s office has done with this portrait.” [video]
Principal Webster accepted the portrait on behalf of Gibbs High. The portrait will hang in the school to honor SSG Knauss, a Tennessean who loved his country and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Video from the event is available to download and use through this link.