Pat Tillman’s Death

By Collin Murray

Pat Tillman was a star football player from San Jose, California, who gave up his NFL contract to enlist in the U.S. Army, prompted by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He attended Leland High School, then went on to play linebacker for Arizona State, and was drafted to play Safety for the Arizona Cardinals. 

Tillman broke team records for tackles in a season, with 224. In 2002, he rejected a contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army, along with his brother Kevin. The two were designated to the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington, eventually doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. On April 22, 2004, Pat Tillman was killed by American gunfire while patrolling in East Afghanistan. The fact that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire rather than enemy forces was initially covered up by the U.S. Army, and Tillman was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. 

After it was revealed that Tillman’s death was accidental, his family criticized the U.S. Army, claiming they used their son as a poster boy of patriotism. They insisted that Tillman’s accidental death was covered up in the beginning because it would have led to decreased support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.