Magazine article Editor & Publisher

UPDATE: Army Ranger at Hearing Says He Was Told to Cover Up Pat Tillman's Killing

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

UPDATE: Army Ranger at Hearing Says He Was Told to Cover Up Pat Tillman's Killing

Article excerpt

An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when he died by friendly fire said Tuesday he was told by a higher-up to conceal that information from Tillman's family.

"I was ordered not to tell them," U.S. Army Specialist Bryan O'Neal told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

He said he was given the order by then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman's platoon.

Pat Tillman's brother Kevin was in a convoy behind his brother when the incident happened, but didn't see it. O'Neal said Bailey told him specifically not to tell Kevin Tillman that the death was friendly fire rather than heroic engagement with the enemy.

"He basically just said, 'Do not let Kevin know, he's probably in a bad place knowing that his brother's dead,'" O'Neal said. He added that Bailey made clear he would "get in trouble" if he told.

O'Neal also said he did not write statements attributed to him in the recommendation for Tillman's Silver Star which hailed him for "engaging the enemy." Thomas F. Gimble, acting inspector general at the Pentagon, testified today that investigators were unable to determine who altered the statement.

"Somewhere in the approval chain, it got edited," Gimble said.

Earlier today, Kevin Tillman accused the military of ''intentional falsehoods'' and ''deliberate and careful misrepresentations'' in portraying the football star's death in Afghanistan as the result of heroic engagement with the enemy instead of friendly fire.

''We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly the American public,'' Kevin Tillman told a hearing of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. ''Pat's death was clearly the result of fratricide,'' he said.

''Revealing that Pat's death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters ... so the truth needed to be suppressed,'' said Tillman, who was in a convoy behind his brother when the incident happened three years ago but didn't see it.

Jessica Lynch also testified in the morning. She said, "I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary....'The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate tales. …

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