The U.S. Army revealed today that former NFL cornerback Pat Tillman was killed in combat while rescuing his fellow soliders:
“Tillman’s platoon was split into two sections. Tillman was the team leader of the lead section when the trail section began receiving suppressive mortar and small-arms fire. … [The] cavernous terrain made it extremely difficult to target enemy positions, and there was no room for the trail element to maneuver out of the kill zone.
Even though his element was out of the area that had come under fire, Tillman “ordered his team to dismount and maneuvered his team up a hill toward the enemy’s location,” the Army said.
During the battle, he issued “fire commands to take the fight to the enemy on the dominating high ground,” the statement continued.
“Only after his team engaged the well-armed enemy did it appear their fires diminished.”
Because of Tillman’s leadership and his team’s efforts, the trail section under fire “was able to maneuver through the ambush to positions of safety without a single casualty,” the Army said.
Tillman was a member of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Lewis, Washington.
He was promoted posthumously from specialist to corporal, an Army spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Thursday.
“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 told the AP. “This promotion is essentially saying he would have been a fine leader.”
Hopefully, this account will put to rest any question that Tillman, who gave up a charmed life in the U.S. to serve his country in one of the world’s most dangerous areas, was unquestionably a hero.