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How Did Pat Tillman Die?

By KJ Mullins     Aug 24, 2007 in Crime
A family's insistence of the truth has shed some light on the death of Pat Tillman. We now know that the football star turned solider died of three shots to the forehead at close range by an M16 rifle. Still the question remains. Why?
Spc. Bryan O'Neal was the last soldier to see Pat Tillman alive. He was told not to tell that a fellow soldier was the one to kill the football star. His superiors warned him to especially shield the truth from the family of Tillman.
O'Neal wanted to tell Pat Tillman's brother Kevin what had happened according to a CNN report.
"I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in a platoon and I knew that he and the family all needed to know what had happened," O'Neal testified. "I was quite appalled that when I was actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him."
O'Neal has stated the his battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey gave the order to keep quiet.
"He basically just said ... 'Do not let Kevin know, that he's probably in a bad place knowing his brother's dead,' " O'Neal told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. "And he made it known I would get in trouble, sir, if I spoke with Kevin on it being fratricide."
The military released a public lie detailing the heroic death of Tillman. Stating that Pat Tillman died leading a courageous counterattack in an Afghan mountain pass the military willingly made up a story to block questions of his death.
Jessica Lynch also has testified that the military lied about her capture.
It was not true," she said before gently chiding the military. "The truth is always more heroic than the hype."
Lynch suffered a mangled spinal column, broken arm, crushed foot, shattered femur and even a sexual assault. The media was given the image of a female "Rambo" who went down fighting.
So why would the military change "history"?
"Revealing that Pat's death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster during a month already swollen with disasters," Kevin Tillman said. "The facts needed to be suppressed. An alternative narrative had to be constructed, crucial evidence destroyed."
Clearly resentful, he told the panel that writing a field report stating that his brother had been "transferred to an intensive care unit for continued CPR after most of his head had been taken off by multiple 5.56 rounds is not misleading."
"These are deliberate and calculated lies," he said.
The military forces others to play into the lies they weave. Soldiers are not allowed to tell the truth for fear of punishment.
Still, Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephen White told the official heroism-under-fire story at a May 3, 2004, memorial service for Tillman.
"It's a horrible thing that happened with Pat," White, a Navy SEAL who was Tillman's friend, told the committee. "I'm the guy that told America how he died, basically, at that memorial. It was incorrect. That does not sit well with me."
How did the truth come out? There were too many holes in the story that the military tried to craft.
"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.
The doctors that worked on Tillman had their names blacked out. In the end the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation. They questioned if Tillman was liked by his comrades and asked if anyone knew of a reason to have him killed. At the end it was ruled friendly fire.
Some of the evidence revealed:
In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."
_ Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.
_ The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.
The Pentagon is preparing new punishmnets stemming from the new details in the case. One of those punished could be retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60 who is facing a severe demotion.
The last known moments of Pat Tillman though have finally been allowed to be shown.
It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.
But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.
The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."
To view videos from this story:
Kevin Tillman accuses the military of lying.
Jessica Lynch's true words
More about Pat tillman, Military, Lies