Sparta woman remembers military hero in midst of political controversy

27-year-old Army Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Baghdad in 2004

The family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier is in the midst of a political battle with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Army Capt. Humayun Khan was killed in Baghdad in 2004, when he was 27-years-old. His parents were guests at the Democratic National Convention last week. Khan’s father accused Trump of “smearing the character” of religious minorities such as his family. He specifically stood up to Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country.

“Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending the United States of America, you will see all faiths, genders and ethnicity. You have sacrificed nothing and no one. We cannot solve our problems by building walls,” said Khizr M. Khan, father of Capt. Khan.

Trump fired back and even took aim at Khan’s wife, who did not publicly say anything on stage at the convention.         

Trump said, “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

When asked in a recent interview if he regretted what he had said, Trump said he did not.

“I don’t regret anything. I said nice things about the son and I feel that very strongly, but of course I was hit very hard from the stage and you know, it’s just one of those things but no, I don’t regret anything,” said Trump.

As this controversy continues, there is something that has been lost: the soldier who paid the ultimate price serving the country he loved so much.

Laci Walker, who is living in Sparta, joined the Army in 2001 and had the honor of serving with Capt. Khan in Iraq until his death in 2004. She said there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about him because he truly had an impact on her life in more ways than one.

“You know how people say they are gone too early? He was one of those that had a soul, in my opinion, that should have lived on infinitely. He should have lived forever,” said Walker

Walker said it’s been 12 years since she lost her friend, but she remembers his leadership.

“He was at the gate doing his job,” said Walker. “That is where he always stood. He was always with the soldiers. He was always looking out for us.”

Khan died when a vehicle exploded near the base.

“His death was by far the most devastating I have ever experienced,” said Walker.

Walker said he was the type of leader that made you want to do better and be better.

“It was almost impossible to let him down, which is a hard attribute to have. Everyone gets let down but for him, he could see through what the problem was and he could identify how to fix it and help you,” said Walker.

News 8 asked Walker, ‘If Khan knew he was going to die that day, would he still stand next to the gate?’ and here is what she had to say.

“Yes, no doubt in my mind because that was the type of person he was,” said Walker. “And there were a lot of other soldiers at the gate that day that were injured. I know that Capt. Kahn would want them to get some recognition.”

Walker said that caring and loving person is exactly who Capt. Kahn truly was: a hero who would risk everything again to protect his country, a hero who has taught her so much in life, on and off the battlefield.

“Never take anyone for granted. You never know when you are going to lose them. You don’t know when the last high-five, that last handshake, that last hug is going to be the last, so don’t take anyone for granted,” said Walker.

The same year Khan died, Walker got a tattoo on her arm that says “Unforgotten.” She said a few months after his death, he appeared to her in a dream. She was mad at him for leaving her, but he reminded her that he would never leave her as long as she always remembered him.

Walker said she would like to meet Khan’s parents someday to let them know their son was a great man and that he will never be forgotten.