Thurman P. Woodfork


Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, Corporal, USA
Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan
I was just looking at the gravestone of the young American soldier Colin Powell mentioned on ‘Meet the Press’. Kareem Khan was born almost 20 years after I left Vietnam and 9 years after I retired from military service. I served in the Air Force longer than he was on earth; he served slightly over two years in the Army. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist; he was a Muslim. Despite our differences in age, religion, and ethnicity we had one unifying, indelible thing in common – our love of America.

I was way past middle age when Kareem joined the Army; now he’s gone in the fullness of vigorous, robust youth and I’m still here. It’s my conceit that the two of us served this country for pretty much the same reasons. Only he died in uniform while hardly out of childhood. I survived my war and – much as I hate to admit it – am now what is referred to as a ‘Senior Citizen’.

Kareem Rashad Sultan KhanI hung up my Air Force blue ‘unifit’ for the last time long before Kareem donned his first set of Army greens. I’ve survived both of my parents and several of my siblings, not to mention numerous friends and acquaintances – and a passel of enemies. Apparently, young Kareem accomplished his mission here on this fractious mote in the universe while I must still be working on mine, since I’m still around. Such are the vagaries of life… and war.

I’m not a distinguished general and statesman like Colin Powell, and few will note my words, but for what it’s worth, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, late of Manahawkin, New Jersey – my brother – I salute you.