Not long after Army Ranger Pat Tillman became outwardly critical of the War on Terror, he was killed in a mysterious "friendly fire" incident in Afghanistan.
On April 22, 2004, former NFL star and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan — or, at least, that’s what his family and the public were led to believe.
Prior to the 9/11 terror attacks, Pat Tillman had been a star college football player who was then drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998. He continued to shine as a pro, becoming a beloved starting player and breaking the team record for most tackles just two years later.
Then came September 11, 2001. As a series of terrorist attacks unfolded, leaving a gaping hole in the Pentagon and the Twin Towers in ruins, America was left shocked and utterly devastated — and the attacks seemed to have struck a particular chord with Tillman.
In May 2002, Tillman made the bold and unprecedented decision to turn down a $3.6 million contract with the Cardinals, and instead enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Tillman and his brother Kevin trained together to become Army Rangers, elite soldiers who specialize in joint special operations raids. Both were eventually assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment based in Fort Lewis, Washington. A year later, in 2003, they were shipped off to Iraq.
Tillman had wanted to be deployed to Afghanistan and fight against Al Qaeda so that he might help bring Osama bin Laden to justice, but Bush administration made the decision to deploy troops to Iraq. One year later, however, Tillman got his wish, and his second tour took him to Afghanistan.
But Tillman quickly came to realize that the war there wasn’t exactly unfolding as it was being portrayed in the American media. He was confused and uncomfortable, for instance, over the media’s spin on the rescue of POW Jessica Lynch, referring to the situation as “a big public relations stunt” for the U.S. military.
Nevertheless, Lynch’s rescue was one of the most celebratory bright spots in the early days of the War on Terror.
Then, in April 2004, it was reported that Tillman had been killed by enemy combatants in an ambush southwest of Khost.
But a month later, the Army would reveal a new report: Pat Tillman had been accidentally gunned down by his fellow soldiers during a firefight. However, it also soon surfaced that he’d been shot three times in the head, and at close range. What’s more, his personal items had been burned, and those who were present were told to keep quiet about what had happened.
So, was Pat Tillman’s death really an accident — or was it something far more nefarious?
Discover the full story behind Pat Tillman’s death and the military cover-up that followed.