He told his soldiers to "hit the dirt", and walked toward a
yellow taxi that neared them, motioning it to stop, just before it blew up. The
commanding officer of 27 year old Captain Humayun Saquib Muazzam Khan relayed
the details of his final moments to his father.
Khan, an ordnance officer of the 201st Forward Support
Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, is the highest ranking U.S. military officer
of South Asian origin to die in Iraq. He was the protection officer for the base
and wasn’t supposed to be on duty that early on June 8, 2004.
Iraqis were crowding the US army base gate and as the officer
in charge, Khan came out to stream line the crowd and saw a taxi racing towards
the gate. He realized the danger and ordered his soldiers to hit the ground and
moved forward to stop the taxi, which suddenly exploded.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan, his parents are proud of his heroics
and say that details of the incidence give them consolation but it is still hard
to assess the loss.
A graduate of University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Khan
was born in the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 09, 1976. His family came to the
USA from Pakistan when he was two years old. He grew up in Silver Spring,
Maryland. He joined ROTC in college in part to pay for law school. His initial
tour of duty was to be up a month earlier but was extended indefinitely.
As a young child Khan was inspired by the Jefferson Memorial
and the inscriptions on its walls. He studied the third President whose writings
influenced him to write the essay for admission to the UVA. His father, Khizr
Khan, will never forget the title of that essay, Gates of Freedom Require Vigilance
True to his promise, Khan was trying to help the locals by
spearheading the hiring of them to work at the U.S. base in Baquba. Before his
efforts most of the work around the base was contracted out to nationals of
other countries. Khan began to hire locals and they appreciated it a lot.
Hundreds of Iraqis wrote letters to his parents showing their appreciation.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple
Heart. The Army ROTC at the UVA instituted Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan Award to be
presented each year to a fourth year cadet chosen by classmates for demonstrable
courage and selfless sacrifices throughout the year.
The experience of the army is such that most people wouldn’t exchange it for
anything else. Khan was no exception as his father told Washington Post, "He
once said that he could not think of anything but being an Army officer."