Patrick Daniel Tillman, Jr. (November 6, 1976 – April 22, 2004) was an American football player who left his professional sports career and enlisted in the United States Army in May 2002.
He served in Iraq and later in Afghanistan, as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, where he was killed. His decision, and subsequent death, were the subject of much media attention. More controversy ensued when, on May 28, 2004, the Pentagon notified the Tillman family that he had died as a result of a friendly fire incident; the family and other critics alleged that the Department of Defense delayed the disclosure for weeks after Tillman's memorial service out of a desire to protect the image of the U.S. armed forces.
The tragedy here was not that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire, this has happened in wars since the beginning of time. It was the subsequent cover up that was a crime here. Was it really concerns that recruiting would be so severely impacted by this disclosure or was something more nefarious? Had word of Tillman's disaffection for the Iraqi war reached those in power? Was this why he was in Afghanistan and not Iraq? Was the military covering up the fact that many of troops deployed lacked the necessary training to avoid killing their fellow soldiers during combat, because of a rush to deploy? Had Tillman lacked the necessary personal body armor that could have saved his life?
Despite the recent investigations and reports issued by the military, many of these questions remained unresolved. The horror of war is bad enough without added incompetence and malice.
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