When 21 year old software engineer Hatim S. Kathiria enlisted
in the U.S. Army, he and his family thought that he would be using his software
skills to run computer systems to track supplies and parts in the materials
supply department. Fate however had planned a different outcome, when on August
22, 2005 Specialist Kathiria found a rocket exploding next to him in Baghdad. He
died later in the hospital.
The only son, Kathiria was born on July 1, 1982 in Dahod,
Gujarat, India to Siraj and Shirin Kathiria. His hometown was once engulfed in
the communal violence of 2002, although at that time Kathiria was studying away
at Madurai Kamraj University in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Shortly after completing
his under-grad degree in computer science, he immigrated to the USA in June
Initially he worked as a gas station attendant but in
November 2003, enlisted in the army with a four year commitment to expedite his
naturalization process and to get money for education. He got his U.S.
citizenship in January 2005 just before getting shipped out to Iraq. Few weeks
earlier he had also got married and his wife too was stationed in Iraq. He was a
logistical specialist assigned to 703rd Forward Support Battalion, 4th Brigade
Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
His father had a scrap shop, which he had to close some time
back and Kathiria was apparently the sole breadwinner for the family. In an
interview with The Indian Express Kathiria’s uncle said that just before his
death Kathiria had wished to be buried in his home town. Local newspapers report
that his funeral in Dahod was attended by over 2,000 people, shouting "long live
Bohra Muslims like Kathirias are well known for their trading
competency but the community was proud of his service in the U.S. Army. The
local Imam, Rehman Faiz, also said that he was a true Indian who fought against
Just a day before his death, Kathiria had called his parents and asked them
to, "pray for me".