The Washington Post reports: Capt. Humayun Khan didn’t need to be out there that day.
Not all officers at Forward Operating Base Warhorse would choose to spend that kind of time outside the gates of their fortified compound, checking on lower-ranking soldiers pulling security detail, said Marie Legros, a staff sergeant posted at the facility in eastern Iraq in 2004.
But Khan, a Army reserve officer and naturalized American on his first deployment to Iraq, was a hands-on supervisor who wanted to know what was going on with the men and women under his command. It was early summer 2004, and conditions in Iraq — including in the restive eastern province of Diyala — were growing more dangerous by the day.
“That’s the thing,” Legros said. “He went just to check on his troops.”
What’s more, June 8 was Khan’s day off, said Crystal Selby, a sergeant at the time, who like Khan worked the midnight-to-noon force protection shift. Selby said she had tried to convince the 27-year-old captain that he needed his rest, but he was adamant that she drive him to the base’s gate so he could see how the guard personnel were doing.
“I dropped him off there, and it wasn’t five minutes after that it happened,” Selby said in a phone interview, her voice choked with emotion.
Khan was standing with other troops outside Warhorse that morning when an orange taxi came speeding toward them. Instructing his soldiers to get down, Khan moved toward the vehicle, motioning for it to stop. Before he could reach the car, an improvised bomb went off, killing Khan and two Iraqi civilians in addition to the two suicide bombers. A dozen more people were wounded.
For fellow members of the 1st Infantry Division’s 201st Forward Support Battalion, the loss of an officer who, according to his comrades, was universally liked and respected was a devastating moment relatively early in their deployment in Iraq.
“He was just that type of person, wanting to make sure his soldiers were okay,” Legros said. He was a “soldier’s officer,” she said, personally invested in those serving under him. [Continue reading…]