Four years after Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire in Afghanistan, his mother, Mary Tillman, is still asking questions—primarily about the U.S. government’s initial cover-up of the details of Pat’s death and about how far up the chain of command the deception extended. Here, New York Times sports writer George Vecsey praises Mary Tillman and her new memoir, “Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman.”
Click here to read “After Pat’s Birthday,” the moving essay by Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, which was first published on Truthdig in 2006.
The New York Times:
Some of the details in Tillman’s book ought to make us sick. In one case, a superior officer, a professed Christian, learns that the Tillmans prefer not to have a chaplain preside over the services and he makes disparaging remarks about the family.
[...] In another case, an investigating officer is giving testimony about the forensic conditions of Tillman’s death but is taken out of the room, only to soften his remarks. When he expresses his lingering concerns, a superior officer says, “I appreciate your candor,” which in military-corporate speak means, “I’ll get you later.”
Mary Tillman believes officers lied to please, or to obey, the White House and the Pentagon, but she acknowledges there is “no paper trail.”
In the grand tradition of patriots who put down their plows or their tools in order to serve, her son put down his football helmet. In the grand tradition of mothers, and the way military leaders ought to be, Mary Tillman stands guard for her son.
Editor’s note: Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer’s wife, Narda Zacchino, collaborated with Mary Tillman in writing the book, and Truthdig Literary Editor Steve Wasserman is the authors’ agent.
From football field to battlefield: After 9/11, Pat Tillman chose to put aside his NFL career to fight in Afghanistan, where he was killed in 2004.