FORT LEE, Va. –
As fellow service members and civilian supporters rallied at Fort Lee’s William Stadium for the installation’s Run for the Fallen observance to honor survivors and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation; an Army Reserve Soldier shared how he felt taking part in the observance, his account of learning about the 9/11 attacks, and his call to action after that ill-fated day 20 years ago.
The Run for the Fallen has significant meaning for Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mohomed Azeez, a Troop Program Unit Soldier assigned to the 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment (TD-FS) Headquarters, who has lost comrades to the war on terror.
“I lost four of my colleagues in Iraq during my second deployment in 2007 while serving with the 16th Engineer Battalion,” said Azeez.” Before, during, and after the run, they were and are always on my mind. My run was to remember and honor them, along with the scores of others who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Azeez went on to share how he learned about the events that transpired on 9/11. For the automotive maintenance warrant officer, being awakened to view the catastrophic events that would forever change America is something that he recalls vividly.
“On that fateful day, I was in Los Angeles, lying on my bed when a friend called me early in the morning and asked me to turn on the TV,” said Azeez.
“A feeling of utter disgust engulfed me instantly, which turned to anger when I realized those who were involved in the attacks belonged to the same religion as I am, and they claimed that they did it for the sake of the religion – for the sake of Islam.”
The ball of emotions felt by Azeez from the 9/11 attacks compelled him to take action by joining our nation’s armed forces.
“That anger inside me told me it is my responsibility to show the world that the peaceful religion, Islam, which I hold dear to my heart has nothing to do with such a heinous act, and those who disgraced my religion and killed thousands of innocent people need to be punished,” said Azeez. “I wanted to do my part by serving the nation.”
Looking back 19 years after his Army enlistment, Azeez’s level of pride could be felt throughout his body as he raised his hand and took his enlistment oath.
“I felt chills going down my spine and felt extremely proud of myself,” said Azeez. “Two decades later, when I look back on 9/11, I can say without hesitation that there are absolutely no regrets about joining the military, and I would gladly do it again without a second thought.
Since joining the Army nearly 20 years ago, Azeez feels he has impacted soldiers and the nation.
“Having deployed twice to Iraq and being one of the few Islamic Soldiers in the United States Army, I worked with my commanders and the local community to correct misinformation about Americans,” said Azeez. “I had the opportunity to attend several high profile meetings with local tribal leaders along with my battalion and brigade commanders.”
“The locals heard my story, and I was able to clear some of the doubts they had about our mission in Iraq,” Azeez added. “I was also involved in a U.S. Army local radio broadcast that was initiated to provide information to the local populace.”
For Azeez, his journey with the Army has been a tremendous experience. “I have learned and experienced a lot that I may have not as a civilian,” said Azeez. “I am always grateful to the United States Army for this opportunity presented to me.”