OCEAN ACRES, NJ, USA U.S. Army CPL, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 23D INFANTRY, FORT LEWIS, WA BAQUBAH, IRAQ 08/06/2007
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, left Kareem Khan, who was then 14, “very upset” his mother, Elsheba Khan, said.
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 August 16, 2007.
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. ” And 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 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, Washington. 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 and 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.”