Patrick Daniel “Pat” Tillman (November 6, 1976 – April 22, 2004) was an American football player who left his professional career and enlisted in the United States Army in June 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. His service in Iraqand Afghanistan, and subsequent death, were the subject of much media attention.
Tillman joined the Army Rangers and served several tours in combat before he died in the mountains of Afghanistan. At first, the Army reported that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire. Controversy ensued when a month later, on May 28, 2004, the Pentagon notified the Tillman family that he had died as a result of a friendly fire incident; the family and other critics allege that the Department of Defense delayed the disclosure for weeks after Tillman’s memorial service out of a desire to protect the image of the U.S. armed forces.
Tillman was the first professional football player to be killed in combat since Bob Kalsu, who died in the Vietnam War in 1970. Tillman was posthumously laterally promoted from Specialist to Corporal. He also received posthumous Silver Star and Purple Heart medals.