ROTC honors fallen, missing comrades
Photos by Lincoln Ross Barbour
By Matt Kelly
Capt. Humayun S. Khan, the first member of the University’s Army ROTC program
to die in the line of duty since the Vietnam War, was remembered Sept. 21 as
a soldier, friend and son.
Khan, 27, a member of the Class of 2000, died in Iraq
on June 8 while he was stopping two suicide bombers
in an explosive-laden car outside his base, preventing
the deaths of many American and Iraqi soldiers. He was honored in two U.Va.
ceremonies, one at the McIntire Amphitheatre and the second at Army
the Astronomy Building.
At the amphitheatre, members from all of the University’s ROTC programs
participated in the annual memoriam for soldiers who were missing in action or
prisoners of war. The Army ROTC also held a separate ceremony at its headquarters,
where a conference room was dedicated in Khan’s memory.
Cadet rifle squad (top) was part of an ROTC service honoring
POWs, MIAs and a fallen U.Va. graduate. Khizr Khan, (center)
father of slain
soldier Capt. Humayun S. Khan, was flanked at the ceremonies by his wife, Ghazala,
and his other sons, Shaharyar (second from left) and Omer (third from left),
during the ceremony.
Khan’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan of Bristow,
Va., participated in both services.
Khizr Khan, his voice taut with emotion, said his son
made three major decisions in his life: to come
to U.Va., to join the ROTC program and
to join the U.S.
Army. Humayun was looking for direction and guidance when he came to
U.Va., Khizr Khan said, and joining ROTC confirmed his values and shaped
completed him as a person,” Khizr Khan said of his son’s decision
to join the Army. “This prepared him to live his life.”
Khizr Khan also recalled a discussion he had with his
son in January about an essay he had written
as part of his admission to the University,
said that liberty and democracy require vigilance and sacrifice.
what I wrote,” his father
recounted Humayun saying. “If my time comes, I will not hesitate.”
And he didn’t.
Capt. James P. Holzgrefe, who graduated with Khan in
2000 and served with him in ROTC, praised Khan for
his abilities to build
as a student at U.Va. and as an officer in Iraq, where he
established a jobs program to help Iraqis find
military is full of leaders who accomplish missions through
said. “But the best accomplish missions through cooperation.”
During the ceremony at the Army ROTC headquarters, Khan’s brothers hung
a framed, folded, American flag in his honor, and Lt. Col. Hampton E. Hite, chairman
of the U.Va. Army ROTC, read a proclamation from the Society of the Purple Shadow.
A portrait of the late Capt. Khan also was hung on the wall, and one of his uniforms
and his black beret will be displayed.
the amphitheatre ceremony, Rebecca Skinner, another former
classmate who is now an
instructor with the ROTC program at U.Va. and at Fort
Monroe, spoke of loyalty, duty, respect, service, honor,
courage — traits
that every American soldier needs to possess. Khan was born with these qualities,
she said. “He gave joy to everyone who knew him.”
Air Force Maj. Gen. Wayne Jefferson delivered the keynote
address at the
amphitheatre, where he remembered his own brother,
a pilot shot down over Vietnam in 1967 during a mission.
but his family
remained unsure of his fate until his bones were
identified in 2000. There are 50,000 prisoners of
war and soldiers
missing in action
for in the
conflicts from World War II to today, Jefferson said.
It is important
that Americans never forget them, he said.