Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, May 31, 2004

The US Army has had to admit that a man that has enjoyed iconic hero status in the US, former NFL player Patrick Tillman, was killed in Afghanistan in a friendly fire incident (Independent). Tillman, who turned down a $3.6 million football deal to serve with the US Rangers after 9/11, has been the subject of reams of newsprint since his death last month, with articles in every major international and US magazines, including Time and Newsweek. The embarrassment for the US Army comes after they reported that he had died attacking a legion of better armed enemy combatants and had been issuing fire orders until he was cut down by enemy fire. The Independent reports that he was standing next to an Afghan soldier who was mistaken for an enemy combatant, and further, that there were no enemy troops in the area at the time. Tillman was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. Given that at the time, the 'War on Terror' was going through a very tough time, it's clear that the US Army needed national heroes. Whilst it does not change his sacrifice in joining the Rangers, it's a sad day when his "ultimate sacrifice" turns out to be at the hands of his own comrades, but even more so when the US Army attempts to take advantage of the situation for their own means...