KABUL, Afghanistan - The death of an NFL star who traded in a multimillion-dollar contract for a chance to defend his country in Afghanistan is an example of the patriotism and sacrifice of all soldiers who put their lives on the line, the U.S. military said Saturday.
Spc. Pat Tillman, a starting safety for the Arizona Cardinals football team who joined the army in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, was killed by enemy fire in an ambush Thursday night in eastern Afghanistan that left two other U.S. soldiers wounded and an Afghan militiaman fighting alongside them dead.
Tillman's sacrifice - he walked away from a $3.6 million offer from Arizona and gave up the most promising year's of his NFL career - has earned him the respect of millions. But U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Matthew Beevers said it was just one example of the dedication of all of the 13,500 U.S. soldiers fighting here.
"Spc. Tillman was clearly a patriot but I think that exemplifies ultimately the patriotism of every soldier, seaman, airman and Marine serving in Afghanistan today ... everybody here is serving and is truly a patriot," Beevers said.
Beevers also gave a few more details about the firefight that cost Tillman his life
He said it occurred at 7:30 p.m. local time Thursday on a road near the village of Sperah, about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. base at Khost.
After coming under fire, Tillman's patrol got out of their vehicles and gave chase to their attackers, moving toward the spot of the ambush. Beevers said the fighting was "sustained" and lasted 15-20 minutes. He said Tillman was killed by enemy fire, but he had no information about what type of weapons were involved in the assault, or whether he died instantly.
There was no word on any enemy casualties.
The area borders Pakistan's North Waziristan region - a tribal area believed to be a possible hideout for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
The Pakistani military recently launched a major operation in nearby South Waziristan in which more than 120 people were killed. They have backed off further military operations, however, and appear to have agreed to an amnesty for several prominent tribesmen accused of sheltering Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
Beevers said the two other U.S. soldiers wounded in the fighting were listed in stable condition at a military hospital at Bagram Air Base, the main coalition headquarters north of the capital, Kabul. Tillman's body was also being kept at Bagram.
Beevers would not say what Tillman's unit - the Army's 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment - was doing when it was attacked, citing security reasons. But he described service with the Rangers as "one of the most demanding assignments anywhere in the military."
Beevers said the risks for U.S. soldiers are still considerable in Afghanistan, despite the fact that fighting in Iraq draws more headlines. Some 110 U.S. soldiers have been killed - 39 of them in combat - since Operation Enduring Freedom began in Afghanistan in late 2001.
"If you speak to every soldier here, his value is not diminished because there are less news clips about what we are doing in Afghanistan," Beevers said. "Every soldier knows exactly what he is doing and why he is here."
Return to The Taxidermy Industry Category Menu
Everything has been said about this person. Must we now make him into a national holiday or worship him? Give it a break---please. Get over it!
he isn't any different or any better than the next soldier, what makes him more important than the next guy ?
why is his death any more news worthy, than any other soldier unfortunate enough to make the ultimate sacrifice ?
it isn't and he isn't
it is sad, and unfortunate, but not any different nor is it more important.
How many people would walk away from the BIG MONEY?
He is right there with what our founding father did, read a short history lesson and see.
not saying that what he did wasn't important, i was just saying that he isn't any better nor is he more important than the other soldiers that have fought for our country so that all of us may enjoy our freedom.