"Hey everybody... I’m in Kuwait right now just waiting till I
head on to Iraq… Just wanted to drop in a word… You all have fun and take care
while I go save the whole world...", this is what Uday Singh wrote in his last
email to his parents. He gave his life for his beliefs.
A third generation military man, 21 year old Army Specialist
Uday Singh was the first South Asian to die in Iraq. He was in the lead Humvee
of a three-vehicle routine patrol when it was ambushed in Habbinayah, 65 miles
west of Baghdad on Dec 1, 2003. He later succumbed to injuries on the way to a
His story of joining the U.S. army also parallels others, as
Major Harp Bains said, "He reminded me of myself. He was of the same age when I
joined the army".
Singh immigrated in 2000 after completing Class XII from St.
Stephens School, Chandigarh. He wanted to get citizenship and according to his
uncle, enlisted in the army in August 2000 when he learnt that process is
shorter for service men.
After enlistment, Singh went to Fort Knox, Kentucky for a 16
weeks boot-camp before getting stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. Army promises
its young recruits opportunity to get education and Singh too made use of it.
From the summer of 2001 to the spring of 2003, he was a student of Barton County
Community College completing 39 credits with a 3.77 GPA.
His education was cut short when his unit was deployed in
February, 2003. He was assigned as armor crewmen and was first deployed in
Kuwait before going to Iraq in September.
Singh answered the call of duty for his adopted nation and
his parents paid the ultimate price when they lost their only son. His mother
told PTI, "He used to call me and tell me how the life in army was so difficult.
Uday wrote me that he used to give orders to servants at home, but now was
getting used to being shouted at."
The army did not forget the sacrifices. Major Bains said, "I
was really happy to see that our two star general went to his house in
Chandigarh to present a little memento and to say thanks for his service."
The U.S Army held a funeral service as his body was cremated in Chandigarh,
first time a foreign army held such a ceremony in India. An urn containing his
remains was buried in Arlington Cemetery with full military honor. He was
honored by a Meritorious Service Medal, a Purple Heart and was posthumously
awarded U.S. citizenship. The Barton County Community College too presented him
the first honorary degree posthumously.