Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service

Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service

Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service

Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service


Since the Revolutionary War, Muslim Americans have served in the United States military, risking their lives to defend a country that increasingly looks at them with suspicion and fear. In Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service,Edward E. Curtis illuminates the long history of Muslim service members who have defended their country and struggled to practice their faith. Profiling soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors since the dawn of our country, Curtis showcases the real stories of Muslim Americans, from Omer Otmen, who fought fiercely against German forces during World War I, to Captain Humayun Khan, who gave his life in Iraq in 2004. These true stories contradict the narratives of hate and fear that have dominated recent headlines, revealing the contributions and sacrifices that these soldiers have made to the United States.


Army reserves captain humayun khan, twenty-seven years old, knew that sacrifice might be required.

Could he know how symbolic that sacrifice would become?

It was his day off, but Khan wanted to check on the troops under his command. His mission, according to Khan’s senior officer, retired Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pitard, was to protect wheeled convoys and guard the gates of Forward Operating Base Warhorse in eastern Iraq. “The 201st Forward Support Battalion, Humayun’s unit,” later wrote Pitard, “was the most motivated and combat-oriented logistics unit I had ever seen.”

More than one thousand Iraqis worked at Camp Warhorse, and Khan’s unit was responsible for inspecting their cars. According to Pitard, “We had killed or wounded several innocent Iraqi drivers at our gates over the previous month for failing to heed our warning signs and our gate guards’ instructions.” But Khan consistently worked to improve relations with the Iraqi workers and would do everything possible to prevent further accidents.

Khan worked from midnight to noon on June 7, 2004, and he was tired. Sgt. Crystal Shelby spoke freely with him, telling him that he needed to get some rest before working further.

But Khan insisted, as he was worried. Shelby drove him to the base entrance.

Khan was well-liked among his troops in the 201st Forward Support Battalion, First Infantry. According to S.Sgt. Marie Legros, he was a “soldier’s soldier … just that type of person, wanting to make sure his soldiers were okay.”

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.