Why Pat Tillman Still Matters– Part I

  Two days ago I got to thinking about Pat Tillman, killed in action in Afghanistan by friendly American fire. Some may remember him as the man who gave up a multi-million-dollar contract to play in the NFL, so that he could join the US Army. So I did a little research on Tillman, and found something that disturbed me a bit: The date of his death is the same as my ship-out date of April 22…

I remember a television interview with Tillman, in which he gave his reasons for leaving the NFL and joining the military: He’d never accomplished anything with his life. He said that his grandfather had fought in war in the service of his country, and that he (Pat) wanted to accomplish something important.

The object of this essay is not to romanticize Tillman’s decision and resultant death. My desire is that people reading this see the personal integrity that man can still possess, and how one man’s journey to define himself can be used by both the Right and the Left to prove their positions–with embarassing consequences.

It’s tough wading through the muck of this story. The Leftists that seem to now control the internet, smearing every story with conspiracies, have done harm to one of America’s greatest assets: Our built in bullshit detectors. Americans have historically been good at detecting lies, but that ability is deluded with the torrent of lies easily available (and at light speed) by the internet.

As I sit writing this, I feel sickened. Sickened at knowing the details of Tillman’s death, sickened by the cover-up by the government and Tillman’s squad, and sickened  by the Left’s crocodile tears. Every soldier that has died in Iraq has been stacked like cordwood until they reached that hallowed number: 4000. The media held its collective breath waiting for the death toll to reach 4000, and I could almost hear the nervous shuffling of feet under journalists’ desks, impatient for one more ideological victory over the Bush Administration. It took almost a year to get the final 25 deaths, but they were all too sweet to some…

Tillman began a college football career at Arizona State University and continued to the pros with the Arizona Cardinals. Everyone who knew Tillman said that he’d always been a leader, but introspective and bookish, having studied several religious texts as well as the transcendental teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

After enlisting with the army, he, along with his brother passed through the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) and was then deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was not yet “tabbed” as a Ranger.

At first, Tillman was heralded as a hero; someone who was willing to sacrifice money and fame in exchange for the honor of serving his country. Let’s not forget that Tillman enlisted only 8 months after 9-11, and most of this country was still together, with only the most far-left decrying efforts to destroy the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Then came Iraq.

By 2004, Tillman had openly decried the war effort. He made arrangements to meet with left-wing intellectual, Noam Chomsky, upon Tillman’s own return from Afghanistan. The meeting did eventually occur, as verified by Chomsky. Later, Tillman was redeployed to Afghanistan.

Here is the short version of the incident in which Tillman was killed:

On April 22, 2004, while on patrol with with fellow soldiers and Afghan militia, Tillman’s unit, as a result of confusion caused by an explosive devise being detonated nearby by friendly units, came under fire from other US soldiers in the area.

Initial reports stated that Tillman’s unit came under ambush by Taliban fighters near the Pakistan border, and that Tillman was killed in the subsequent gun battle after leading his team through the ambush and to a superior position.

The army issued official statements and reports praising the efforts of Tillman and awarding him the Silver Star and Purple Heart, in addition to a posthumous promotion. His funeral was broadcast on national television and moved millions of people to tears.

Then the truth shattered what little hope America had in Iraq being an easy, just war.

Upon further investigation, prompted by army medical investigators, who questioned the physical evidence that remained in Tillman’s death (Tillman was slain by three bullets that struck him in the head, all entering his skull in a small group). Further interviews with soldiers in Tillman’s unit revealed that the incident had most likely been a case of fratricide, or friendly-fire.

A second report of the incident was released, the details much grimmer and less heroic than the first. Tillman and his men did indeed come under fire that night.

Tillman popped a smoke grenade, and yelled,  in a an effort to signal that American troops were being fired on. Apparently he realized that the fire was friendly. Eventually the gunfire subsided, and Tillman stood up. He was killed instantly by three shots of 5.56 mm from an M-16, at an estimated range of 10 meters. Allegedly, several other people were injured, including a member of the Afghan militia in the patrol.

 Realizing what had happened, combat commanders ordered that Tillman’s body armor and journal be burned.

About a month after the funeral, the second report surfaced.

To be continued…


5 Responses to “Why Pat Tillman Still Matters– Part I”

  1. 1 kip
    April 13, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Tillman’s murder remains one of the darker moments of this illegal war.

  2. April 14, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Murder? Maybe, maybe not.

    Magus, I think we have an opinion here:

    Kip, please tell us your dates of service, or your dad’s dates of service.

    Or please, just tell us you have a close friendship, or acquaintanceship with at least one veteran of the U.S. military service. Surely you do, right?

    Illegal war? Afghanistan? Could you please articulate your reason for this belief?

  3. 3 steve
    April 14, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Seriously, I regard it very noble what this guy wanted to do. But what he actually did was supporting a scheme of people with far less noble motives…

    As for legal or illegal war. There has been no declaration of war from either side so from a legal perspective there is no war. Currently the Afghans (or at least their government) supports the NATO activities that try to keep the Taliban from coming back to power.

    Iraq – well, that’s a different story. I think it will go down in history as one of the worst US failiures in history, maybe even worse than Vietnam. It started with lies, cost more lives than the Saddam regime ever took and still has not found an exit strategy. But even more important: The region now is less stable than before. Apart from that the credibility and the economy of the US have suffered severely – which is a very bad thing. This only strengthens the non-democratic powers in the world. I am looking forward to the end of Bush’s term and sometimes wonder how he still can look in the mirror.

  4. April 14, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Oh, Steve,

    Do you really believe Saddam did not kill over 4000 people in his entire reign?

    Do you really think Vietnam was better than today’s war? Vietnam? Sixty thousand dead troops, mostly draftees. Any draftees in the ones we’ve lost here?

    I have to redirect you back to my preceding comment, right before you posted.


  5. 5 ang
    May 13, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Tillman was murdered at close range by his comrades because of his antiwar views., He wanted to make his views public when he got home. Since we cant have the poster boy for war speak against the war…… we have him die a “honorably” with his mouth shut.

    This was explained by his own mother. It’s a shame that people believe the media crap, instead of someone who gave birth to this young man.

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