On April 24, 2007, Kevin Tillman, Pat Tillman’s brother who served with him as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, testified in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing and said that the military misled the nation and betrayed his family by spreading false stories about how he died. A soldier who saw Tillman die, Spc. Bryan O’Neal, as well as a naval officer who eulogized Tillman agreed.
Mary Tillman wanted the scope of the investigation to go beyond the death of her son. She said, “This really isn’t about our family or about Pat. It’s about what they did to the nation. They’re diminishing true heroism. War is ugly, bloody and painful, and to write these glorious tales is a disservice.”
Jessica Lynch, the Army supply clerk who was captured in the first month of the Iraq War and then famously rescued by American troops testified that the story told about her by the Pentagon was a fabrication.
Spc. O’Neal was yards away from Tillamn when he was shot. He recalled how Tillman frantically shouted and waved to members of his platoon before they shot him. Hours afterward, Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey told O’Neal not to tell Kevin Tillman that his brother was killed by friendly fire.
Thomas Gimble, the The Defense Department’s inspector general, defended the department’s investigation into how Tillman’s death was handled. His report found fault with 9 officers. He said the investigation was clumsy, but there was no cover-up. He admitted that there were no inquiries made as to whether there was contact between the Pentagon and the White House over the case, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was not questioned. Rumsfeld sent a letter saying he didn’t know until several weeks later that Tillman had been killed by friendly fire.
(NOTE: This post was edited to delete any traces of a story from the San Jose Mercury News. The reason can be found here.)