Jan 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; General view of the statue of Pat Tillman before the 2013 Fiesta Bowl between the Oregon Ducks and the Kansas State Wildcats at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Army veteran admits he may have fired rounds that killed Pat Tillman

The death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman occurred ten years ago this week, and the story of Tillman’s patriotism has been tied to the truth of what happened to him ever since he was killed in 2004. While the initial story had been that Tillman was killed by enemy fire while on tour in Afghanistan, it was later revealed that friendly fire was the likely cause of his death which made his story of heroism even more powerful.

With the revelation that Tillman was likely gunned down by friendly fire, there hasn’t been much else to say about the incident until today when ESPN and Outside The Lines published a report that details the incident from the perspective of Army Ranger Steven Elliot, who is the man who may have fired the rounds that killed Tillman.

You aim at a point, and you fire a burst. You are holding your trigger for a fraction of a second, but that fraction of a second releases three to five rounds. If it looked like you had (three) rounds and very close to one another, well, that was very consistent to how I was firing my weapon at that point. … It would be disingenuous for me to say there is no way my rounds didn’t kill him, because my rounds very well could have.

The story — everything about it — highlights the tragedy of war and the price of freedom. It also highlights the chaos of war and how one mistake can set off a chain of events that ends in tragedy.

No one is vilifying Elliot as a murder or as a scoundrel who fired his weapon at random because he’s neither of those things. If he’s anything at all he’s brave for telling this story like he has. While he may have been the one who pulled the trigger that accidentally ended his fellow soldier’s life, he’s not leaving Pat Tillman or the any memories about him behind on the battlefield.

If anything, the closure this helps bring to Tillman’s loved ones is worth the price of having to re-live the painful memories that are only now becoming public knowledge.

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  • GuyMontag425

    “With the revelation that Tillman was likely gunned down by friendly fire, there hasn’t been much else to say about the incident until today”

    Really? I’m disappointed that Mike Fish’s piece doesn’t even mention the Pentagon’s cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death that was supervised by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. For details, see the DVD “The Tillman Story,” Mary Tillman’s “Boots on the Ground by Dusk,” or Jon Krakauer’s revised paperback edition of “Where Men Win Glory” (a flawed bio, but has a good description of the incident and ensuing cover-up).

    Nor does this piece mention the subsequent bipartisan Presidential (Bush & Obama) and Congressional (e.g. Rep. Henry Waxman, Senators John McCain, Carl Levin, & James Webb) whitewash of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. My most recent Feral Firefighter blog post, “Defend Your Integrity,” was recently posted and discusses former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ revelation in his memoir that he was the driving force behind the bipartisan whitewash of Gen. McChrystal’s command of both the Tillman cover-up & JSOC torture.

    I’ve called this aspect of the story “The [Untold] Tillman Story” since none of the magazine, book, or DVD accounts have described it (although the late Michael Hastings briefly mentioned it in his excellent book “The Operators”). For more details, see my posts such as “Defend Your Integrity,” “Never Shall I Fail My Comrades,” “Something to Die For,” and/or “The [Untold] Tillman Story” @ http://www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.

    • Ronnie Richard

      Good job on calling out this hack.

  • Ronnie Richard

    “The story — everything about it — highlights the tragedy of war and the price of freedom”

    Jesus Christ, you seriously made me chuckle. It highlights the tragedy of American citizens being lied to by their government. No mention of the sniper group that was in the area, Pats missing diary, the burning of his clothes and body armor, etc. Do some real research instead of pandering for dollars!