Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kareem Khan remembered

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, left Kareem Khan, who was then 14, "very upset" his mother, Elsheba Khan, said this week.

The younger Khan, a Muslim, was concerned that the event created a negative stereotype of Muslims, and, although he didn't say so, his mother believes that concern might have been the reason her son decided to join the U.S. Army when he graduated from high school in 2005.

"He always wanted to help any way he could," Elsheba Khan said.

Cpl. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, who won several medals while serving for more than a year in Iraq, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery Aug. 16, his mother said.

Khan, 20, was killed alongside three other members of his infantry division Aug. 6 by an explosive device that detonated while his team was clearing a home in Baqubah, Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Although Khan grew up in New Jersey, he considered Columbia his "second home," his mother said.

Elsheba Khan, who moved to Columbia after she and her husband divorced, said Kareem Khan often visited her and several of his aunts, uncles and cousins who are Columbia residents, on weekends and holidays.

She and her son often watched the Food Network when he visited, Elsheba Khan said, adding that he could quickly create a meal based on what he saw. Pepper shrimp was his specialty.

"He was a quick learner; and he was a very hardworking person," Elsheba Khan said. "He was always smiling no matter what was going on."

Kareem Khan's trademark grin is on display in the photographs that fill his mother's Columbia apartment.

In one, he is a toddler with a wide grin; in another, he poses in a top hat before his junior prom; in a third, he holds the hand of a local boy he befriended in Iraq.

He began his military service shortly after graduating from Southern Regional High School, in Manahawkin, N.J. He trained at Fort Benning, Ga., and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.

He was deployed to Iraq in July 2006 and was originally scheduled to return in June; however, his tour was extended to September, Elsheba Khan said.

When Kareem Khan arrived in Iraq he assisted doctors in a medic unit, a job that inspired him to consider medical school when he left the Army, his mother said, adding that the family sent him medical textbooks that he studied while in Iraq.

"That's the sort of person he was," Elsheba Khan said. "He liked to help people."

His fellow soldiers described the slender Khan as someone who always gave his best effort to every job he performed and was always prepared to help others when he finished his duties, his mother said.

"Although he was a small person he had a big heart," she added. "I couldn't ask for anything better. I had the best."

In addition to his mother, Khan is survived by his father, Feroze Khan, of Manahawkin; his grandparents, Sultan and Zenith Mohammed, of Diego Martin, Trinidad; five aunts, Rasheed Mohammed, of Trinidad, Roshani Kernahan, of Trinidad, Shamoon Asgarali, of Columbia, Shereln Sookhoo, of New York, and Jerisha Maharaj, of Trinidad; three uncles, Dillanswer Mohammed, of Baltimore, Khalick Mohammed, of Trinidad, and Zul Hosein, of Columbia; six cousins, Hezida Hosein, of Columbia, Frizoa Ali, of Hollywood, Fla., Jenny Hosein, of Hollywood, Sham Hosein, of Hollywood, Fazan Hosein, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Farida Hosein of Newark, N.J.; and other relatives.

From the Howard County Times

Related Link:
Kareem R. Khan dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'