Former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed Thursday while serving as an Army Rangers soldier on a mission in southeastern Afghanistan, Pentagon officials have told CNN. He was 27.
Pentagon sources confirmed that a soldier killed during an ambush on a coalition combat patrol, reported in a U.S. Central Command release, was Tillman.
The incident took place at 7:30 p.m. local time Thursday near the village of Sperah, 40 kilometers southwest of Khowst.
Tillman killed in Afghanistan, Former Cardinals safety walked away from NFL to join Army Rangers, Sports Illustrated/CNN, Friday, April 23, 2004
Pat Tillman was promoted posthumously from specialist to corporal after the former NFL player was killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.
"The Army always notes that rank and promotion are not a reward of what was done well, but a recognition that you have the potential to do more," Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd said. "This promotion is essentially saying that he would have been a fine leader."
Tillman, who walked away from a three-year, $3.6 million contract offer from the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army in 2002, was killed April 22 when the Army patrol was ambushed near the Afghan-Pakistani border.
The promotion will not affect any benefits his family receives. Both ranks are E4, or the fourth rank available for enlisted soldiers.
Tillman promoted posthumously by Army, NFL ,April 29, 2004
A cartoon questioning late footballer-turned-soldier Pat Tillman's credentials as a "hero" was pulled from MSNBC.com this afternoon. The drawing also brought Ted Rall 110 e-mails in less than 15 minutes.
The volume of mail had much to do with the cartoon being mentioned on the Drudge Report site, seen by many conservatives. Drudge linked to MSNBC.com until the cartoon was yanked. Then Drudge linked to the cartoon at Universal Press Syndicate's site (http://www.ucomics.com).
In a statement posted on its site, MSNBC.com said Rall's cartoons, like those by other creators, are "published daily on the site via an automated syndication feed. Such feeds are rarely reviewed. However, MSNBC.com Editor in Chief Dean Wright concluded Monday's Rall item did not meet MSNBC.com standards of fairness and taste."
Dave Astor, Rall's 'Tillman' Cartoon Pulled by MSNBC.com , Editor & Publisher,May 3, 2004
I am heartbroken today by the news of Pat Tillmanís death. The tragic loss of this extraordinary young man will seem a heavy blow to our nationís morale, as it is surely a grievous injury to his loved ones. Many American families have suffered the same terrible sacrifice that Patís family must now bear, and the patriotism that their loved onesí exemplified is as fine and compelling as Patís. But there is in Pat Tillmanís example, in his unexpected choice of duty to his country over the riches and other comforts of celebrity, and in his humility, such an inspiration to all of us to reclaim the essential public-spiritedness of Americans that many of us, in low moments, had worried was no longer our common distinguishing trait.
John McCain, Statement on the Death of Pat Tillman , April 23, 2004
I've been mystified at the absolute nonsense of being in "awe" of Tillman's "sacrifice" that has been the American response. Mystified, but not surprised. True, it's not everyday that you forgo a $3.6 million contract for joining the military. And, not just the regular army, but the elite Army Rangers. You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the "real" thick of things. I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish. Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life "Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed."
But, does that make him a hero? I guess it's a matter of perspective. For people in the United States, who seem to be unable to admit the stupidity of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars, such a trade-off in life standards (if not expectancy) is nothing short of heroic. Obviously, the man must be made of "stronger stuff" to have had decided to "serve" his country rather than take from it. It's the old JFK exhortation to citizen service to the nation, and it seems to strike an emotional chord. So, it's understandable why Americans automatically knee-jerk into hero worship.
However, in my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Tillman would have been called a "pendejo," an idiot. Tillman, in the absurd belief that he was defending or serving his all-powerful country from a seventh-rate, Third World nation devastated by the previous conflicts it had endured, decided to give up a comfortable life to place himself in a combat situation that cost him his life. This was not "Ramon or Tyrone," who joined the military out of financial necessity, or to have a chance at education. This was a "G.I. Joe" guy who got what was coming to him. That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy.
Rene Gonzalez, Pat Tillman is not a hero: He got what was coming to him , The Daily Collegian, April 28, 2004
The hate-monger is syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. It's not censorship or "McCarthyism" for people to complain about any syndicate that peddles the poison that Rall lives off. Today's disgusting diatribe against Pat Tillman is so vile, so utterly devoid of any motive or argument but personal malice and hatred, some form of protest is surely merited. Email the vice-president for print syndication, Lee Salem, and tell him what you think of Rall's cartoon.
Andrew Sullivan, Protest Rall, andrewsullivan.com, May 3, 2004