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Muslim American Soldier Mourned

  • Abdul Khan

Major James Michael Ahearn had a near perfect life. The 43-year-old career army officer was newly married and recently became a father for the first time. On July 5th, during a routine patrol in Iraq, a roadside bomb exploded, killing Major Ahearn and his driver. For Urdu TV's Abdul Aziz Khan, VOA's Jim Bertel has more on this fallen American soldier.

A new dawn beckons at Fort Bragg Military Base in North Carolina. It is one of the most famous military bases in the United States and is home to the famed 82nd Airborne Division.

There is also a small mosque at the base, and Muslim soldiers of the U.S. Army gathered here earlier this week to pray and mourn the loss of a fellow soldier.

The soldier they are remembering is Major James Michael Ahearn. While in Iraq, Ahearn converted to Islam and married an Iraqi woman named Lena.

In 2005, they moved back to North Carolina where they had a daughter and named her "Khadija," after the wife of the Prophet Muhammad

Eventually, Major Ahearn was sent back to Iraq. On July 5th, he and his driver were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle.

Chaplain Khan was sent to inform Lena Ahearn of her husband's death. "When Major Ahearn died, the Army wanted to send a Muslim along with the casualty officer, so they contacted me," he said. "I went with them and met his wife. Obviously, it was a huge shock for her and there was nothing I could say that would take away her pain. We were without words."

His colleagues remember Major James Michael Ahearn as a very quiet and peaceful man. He was given an Islamic burial earlier this week at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for many of America's fallen heroes.

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