The story hit the wires
early Saturday morning.
Here’s the opening of the Reuters version
in a late update.
Ex-US Football Star Likely 'Friendly Fire' Victim
Jim Wolf, Saturday May 29, 2004 05:32 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cpl. Patrick Tillman, killed in Afghanistan last month after spurning a
$3.6 million football contract to join the special forces, was probably shot by his own comrades in the confusion of battle,
the military said on Saturday.
An investigation of the April 22 death
of Tillman, 27, an ex-safety for the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals, did not blame any individual.
Previous military statements had suggested Tillman, perhaps the best-known U.S. casualty of the
Iraq and Afghan campaigns, had been killed by enemy fire.
was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Cpl. Tillman died as a probable result of friendly
fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces," the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
The term "friendly fire" is used by the military to describe an accidental or mistaken attack on
one's own forces or allies.
Tillman's elite Army Ranger platoon was ambushed
by 10 to 12 fighters firing small arms and mortars while on patrol at about 7:30 p.m. near Khost, in southeastern Afghanistan,
the Army Special Operations Command said in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
ambushers struck from "multiple locations over approximately one kilometer in very severe and constricted terrain with impaired
light conditions," the Central Command said.
Tillman left his combat
vehicle and, "in support of his unit, moved into position to suppress enemy fire," the command said.
The investigation's findings "in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Cpl. Tillman,"
the statement said.
"There is an inherent degree of confusion in any
firefight, particularly when a unit is ambushed, and especially under difficult light and terrain conditions which produces
an environment that increases the likelihood of fratricide," the military said.
Well, then – what
to make of this?
You’ll find an interesting response at a web log called Sisyphus Shrugged - a site one cannot recommend too highly.
And it does have a great name.
Here’s how it opens:
There are a few points I'd like to make about this before everybody gets back from the three-day
weekend which the Army no doubt took into account when choosing when to release this story.
1) Pat Tillman's death seems to me to be tragic because he was willing to give up a great deal to do what he
thought was the right thing. The main thing he put on the line was his life. This makes him one of many hundreds of young Americans who gave up their lives to
do what they believed to be the right thing.
I find it incredibly distasteful
when supporters of the current administration try to shove him up on a pedestal because he could have been rich instead. I haven't found any other area of political discourse where you folks think that it's
honorable and righteous and patriotic to consider anything over profits. Certainly
none of your political heroes have.
If you think it's un-American to
bitch about Halliburton taking a record rakeoff and serving our soldiers rotted food, just leave Pat Tillman's name out of
your mouth. He didn't die for your ideology.
He died to show it up.
2) Unless you are a member of his family
or one of his friends, you did not lose Pat Tillman (just as you didn't lose the people who died in the WTC and the Pentagon). The parents who gave birth to him and/or played catch with him in the back yard lost
him. His wife lost him. His friends
lost him. The guys in his unit lost him.
America lost a soldier. That should be enough for you. If you have any of those floods of grief left over, spread it over the other 800 soldiers America lost.
3) It seems to me not unlikely that the man's parents and his wife and his
friends will be very unhappy about this news. It is possible that they will have
something to say about that unhappiness to the media.
If you are a supporter
of the war, and if you have been attempting to trick yourself out in Pat Tillman's sacrifice, this will undoubtedly be upsetting
to you. As a strategy for coping with this unhappiness, may I suggest that you
shut the fuck up.
The man is dead.
And if you feel like avoiding
politics and being religious in this matter?
His brother Rich said in his eulogy at the funeral of Patrick Tillman - "Pat isn't with God. He's
fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So
thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead."