November 11, 2021
CAPT John Knapp, USN (Ret) has a passion for the United States Military and its service men and women.
John's desire to enter the military began when his older brother applied to the newly formed United States Air Force Academy in the mid-50s. Although his brother did not make it through the application process due to medical reasons, John followed his footsteps years later by being appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1964. John’s passion for flying brought him to the Navy’s flight school in Pensacola, FL, following his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1968. After attending flight training in Pensacola (where he also met his wife of 51 years, Jan), and Corpus Christi, TX he received his Navy Wings in October of 1969.
Official duties followed as Flight Instructor in Corpus Christi; a Patrol Squadron in Jacksonville, FL; Staff Duty at the Naval Academy in Annapolis; and Ship’s Company aboard the USS America (CV-66).
In 1979, with so much time away and two young children at home, John made the decision to go into the Reserves. As a civilian, John worked for General Dynamics, United Technologies, ITT Defense, Raytheon, and worked as a Naval Officer on the weekends and in the summer. After he was promoted to Commander, he joined the Joint Deployment Agency in Tampa, FL.
But John's active-duty days were not over. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John's reserve unit transitioned to active duty. Stationed at Scott AFB in Southern Illinois, John supported Desert Shield and Desert Storm for a year. He finally retired from the military after 28 years of service to our country.
After completely retiring in 2008, John's path brought him to North Carolina. John and Jan fell in love with Western North Carolina after their son visited and enrolled in Christ School in Asheville. After settling into their new community, John became the president of the Military Officers' Association of America (MOAA) chapter in Western North Carolina, which at the time, was the largest chapter in the state with over 200 members.
Many MOAA chapters have active-duty military bases nearby to support, but there are no active-duty bases in this area. As John and the Chapter began to look for other ways to support the large community of retired veterans in WNC, he stumbled across an article about the national organization, We Honor Veterans. After some research on how this could work with a local hospice organization, John and Spence Campbell (Chapter First Vice President) met with Chris Comeaux (Four Seasons CEO at the time) and his team to pitch the idea of bringing a We Honor Veterans program to Four Seasons. Chris and his team were thrilled with the opportunity. Four Seasons was presented to the MOAA chapter, and the We Honor Veterans program at Four Seasons was established in 2014.
Now in 2021, the We Honor Veterans program has completed over 700 Veteran pinning ceremonies throughout WNC. *** Four Seasons Foundation has also helped to establish the BG Blazey, USA (Ret) Endowment which specifically assists Veterans with the care they need. The Foundation has also established the Dan & Nancy Barber Veterans Memorial Garden. Other hospice organizations have also contacted John and his colleagues to learn how they can create and implement similar programs, especially the pinning ceremonies. As John says, "For those of us who do the ceremony and for those who have attended, the pinnings are the most meaningful and emotional moments thanking veterans for their contribution and sacrifice to our country."
Thank you, CAPT John Knapp, for your passion, service, and leadership in the United States Military and at Four Seasons. We are grateful for you and all our service members today and every day.