Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"Courageous and humble, a loving husband and son, a devoted brother and a fierce defender of liberty: Pat Tillman will always be remembered and honored in our country." -- President Bush, Fall 2004

Now that we know the truth about Pat Tillman's death, the words are especially hollow, almost cruel. His death wasn't heroic; his last words were his name -- I'm Pat Tillman! -- delivered in a scream in hopes that his fellow Rangers would stop shooting at him. Instead they shot him three times in the head, from a distance no longer than a football field, and then the Army lied hard to keep the truth from the public.

The early lies said Tillman and his patrol killed nine enemy soldiers, and Tillman was airlifted out and lived for 12 hours before succumbing to his wounds. It took more than a month for the Army to finally acknowledge the fact that Tillman died in a hail of friendly fire.

(For the full background, this ESPN report from 2006 is hard to top.)

His Silver Star still stands, though reading the citation makes the lies even worse:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, 9 July 1918 (amended by act of 25 July 1963), has awarded the SILVER STAR to
for gallantry in action on 22 April 2004 against an armed enemy while serving as a Rifle Team Leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Corporal Tillman put himself in the line of devastating enemy fire as he maneuvered his Fire Team to a covered position from which they could effectively employ their weapons on known enemy positions. While mortally wounded, his audacious leadership and courageous example under fire inspired his men to fight with great risk to their own personal safety, resulting in the enemy's withdrawal and his platoon's safe passage from the ambush kill zone. Corporal Tillman's personal courage, tactical expertise, and professional competence directly contributed to this platoon's overall success and survival. Through his distinctive accomplishments, Corporal Tillman reflected great credit upon himself, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the United States Army.
Audacious, indeed.


John Stone said...

Then of couse there is the ugly little factoid hanging out there that the Army burned his diary ... and all the other evidence, like his clothing.

His mother has been told so many lies by the Army she is now convinced that he was assassinated.

Anonymous said...

Even though the Army screwed the pooch in making up the story of his death to further promote the war on terror, he still was those things you quoted the President as saying. He did not though earn the Silver Star.