Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Tillman's parents accuse US Army of scripting a tale


The parents of former American gridiron star Pat Tillman blasted the US military for the way they handled a probe into Tillman's death while he was fighting in Afghanistan.

The Tillmans, whose son was accidentally shot and killed by his fellow US soldiers, told the Washington Post they believe the military and government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a nationwide patriotic response.

"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman Sr. told the Washington Post.

"They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about the death got out. They blew up their poster boy," he said.

Pat Tillman Sr.'s wife Mary said, "Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did. The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect.

"The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting," she said.

Pat Tillman gave up a career in the National Football League with the Arizona Cardinals after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to join the US Army Rangers.

In spring last year, Pat Tillman's unit was sent to Afghanistan, where the Rangers were responsible for mopping up the remnants of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.

But shortly after arriving in the mountains to fight, Pat Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy. He was 27.

The army told Tillman's family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill.

After a public memorial service, the army told Tillman's family that he had been killed by his own men.

General Vincent Brooks, a US Army spokesman, admitted that "mistakes" were made.

"In the case of the death of Corporal Patrick Tillman, the army made mistakes in reporting the circumstances of his death to the family," Brooks told the newspaper. "For these, we apologize.

Patrick Tillman Sr. wants all army officials who conducted the investigation to face discipline.

"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," Tillman Sr. said.

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