Pat Tillman, the former National Football League safety who left the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was ``probably'' killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army said today.
Tillman had left his vehicle and moved into position to suppress enemy fire, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. His unit was ambushed with small arms and mortar fire while it conducted combat operations, the statement said.
The April 22 ambush occurred in ``very severe and constricted terrain with impaired light conditions,'' it 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 statement said.
Tillman, 27, enlisted in the Army with his brother, Kevin, seven months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He left behind a new bride, a NFL career and a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
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 unamerican 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.
Here, let's roleplay.
Media Person: [someone who actually knew and loved this young man], it turns out that he was killed by friendly fire. How do you react to this news?
[someone who actually knew and loved this young man]: While I understand that this is a risk that all soldiers take in the heat of battle, I am very unhappy to discover that it happened to someone I knew and loved, and possibly I question whether it could have been avoided if things had been handled differently.
You: [shuts the fuck up]
There now. Was that so hard?
OK, so we're agreed. Even if the very thought of Pat Tillman is just going to ruin the licensed NFL merchandise aisle of Target for you for just years to come, you will respect his family's slightly more personal grievance and just shut the fuck up.
If the common decency of this act of continence doesn't strike a chord for you, think of it as a good way to avoid looking like a complete swine who turns on gold star families who imagine that their loved one's life is more important than your having something really vehement to post over at LGF.
On behalf of those of us who chose to support our soldiers by trying to keep them from dying needlessly in a poorly-planned war, I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.