Monday, October 23, 2006
PHOENIX -- The brother of an NFL player who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan after quitting his team to join the Army Rangers has spoken out.
Kevin Tillman, a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with his older brother, Pat, has been silent since his brother died in 2004. But last week, he wrote a scathing indictment of the war in Iraq, the Bush administration and American apathy.
"Somehow, the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes," Kevin wrote on Truthdig.com, an online magazine that bought his work.
The brothers, Arizona State University graduates, joined the Army in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They served as Rangers with the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Pat Tillman, who played defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, was killed near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in April 2004. The Defense Department is investigating allegations of a coverup, including failure by the Army to tell Tillman's family for several weeks that he had been killed by gunfire from his fellow Army Rangers.
Kevin Tillman has not spoken publicly about the war or his brother's death since his discharge from the Army. But on Truthdig.com, he wrote openly about the war and America's response to it.
"Somehow, the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country. Somehow, this is tolerated. Somehow, nobody is accountable for this."
After playing for the ASU Sun Devils, Pat Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998. He played with the team for four years.
On Sept. 12, 2001, he gave an interview in which he talked about how "stupid" football seemed relative to world events.
"At times like this, you stop and think about not only how good we have it but what kind of system we live under," he said. "My great-grandfather was at Pearl Harbor. And a lot of my family has gone and fought in wars. And I really haven't done a . . . thing as far as laying myself on the line like that."
Pat Tillman was about to sign another contract with the Cardinals in spring 2002 when he decided to join the Army instead.
The Tillmans were sent to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2003, the brothers returned to the United States for training to become Army Rangers. After that, they were sent to Afghanistan.