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May 30, 2004 - He died. Sisyphus Shrugged.

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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. 

"While there 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. 

The 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. 


Good advice. 

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."

Move on.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....