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Who Killed Pat Tillman?
Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich suggested to's Mike Fish that his parents only care because they don't believe in the Imaginary Friend -- and it seems, neither did Tillman. An excerpt from the excellent series by Fish is below. Kauzlarich is talking about Tillman's parents:

"...I don't know, these people have a hard time letting it go. It may be because of their religious beliefs."

In a transcript of his interview with Brig. Gen. Gary Jones during a November 2004 investigation, Kauzlarich said he'd learned Kevin Tillman, Pat's brother and fellow Army Ranger who was a part of the battle the night Pat Tillman died, objected to the presence of a chaplain and the saying of prayers during a repatriation ceremony in Germany before his brother's body was returned to the United States.

Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family's unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by whether the Tillmans' religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."

Asked what might finally placate the family, Kauzlarich said, "You know what? I don't think anything will make them happy, quite honestly. I don't know. Maybe they want to see somebody's head on a platter. But will that really make them happy? No, because they can't bring their son back."

Kauzlarich, now 40, was the Ranger regiment executive officer in Afghanistan, who played a role in writing the recommendation for Tillman's posthumous Silver Star. And finally, with his fingerprints already all over many of the hot-button issues, including the question of who ordered the platoon to be split as it dragged a disabled Humvee through the mountains, Kauzlarich conducted the first official Army investigation into Tillman's death.

That investigation is among the inquiries that didn't satisfy the Tillman family.

"Well, this guy makes disparaging remarks about the fact that we're not Christians, and the reason that we can't put Pat to rest is because we're not Christians," Mary Tillman, Pat's mother, said in an interview with Mary Tillman casts the family as spiritual, though she said it does not believe in many of the fundamental aspects of organized religion.

"Oh, it has nothing to do with the fact that this whole thing is shady," she said sarcastically, "But it is because we are not Christians."

After a pause, her voice full with emotion, she added, "Pat may not have been what you call a Christian. He was about the best person I ever knew. I mean, he was just a good guy. He didn't lie. He was very honest. He was very generous. He was very humble. I mean, he had an ego, but it was a healthy ego. It is like, everything those [people] are, he wasn't."

Your life has meaning because you make it have meaning -- on earth -- which, it sure sounds like Tillman did. Since the only evidence we have points to all of us being worm food when we die, and since Tillman was rational instead of being into religious witchcraft, maybe that made him more cognizant of living to the fullest on earth. As Tillman's brother said in a later version of the series:

When the time came for Richard to speak from the podium on that sunny California day, May 3, 2004, in the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, he tried to set the record straight about his brother and the afterlife for anyone who might try to co-opt Pat Tillman's story.

"Pat isn't with God. He's f------ dead," he told the 2,000 or so people in attendance and the television audience watching on ESPN. "He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f------ dead."

The people who were close to Pat Tillman, both as a civilian and as a soldier, paint a picture of a complicated man who questioned authority to understand it, who challenged his friends to defend their beliefs and who sought as many points of view as possible to make sense of an issue. They describe a person with no tolerance for dishonesty or incompetence, who would have countenanced neither the manner in which he was killed nor the way his death was handled.

More than two years after Pat Tillman died, Richard — like the rest of the Tillman family and many of Pat's close friends — is still trying to keep at bay the people and institutions who might want to use his brother's name for their own interests. The family is still suspicious of the media, still angry at the government, still convinced the Army tried to glorify Pat as a war hero when it knew he'd been gunned down by his fellow soldiers.

And, they're still looking for answers to the questions that have kept the story about Pat Tillman's uncertain death alive through three Army investigations and now an ongoing review by the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office...

Part two of Mike Fish's Tillman series is here. Part three is here.

via The Daily Fix

Posted by aalkon at July 24, 2006 8:37 AM

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Pat Tillman DID die because he wasn't a Christian. god kills all unbelievers and heathens dead....even though i'm sure theres a lot more important things going on in the universe. god is like a giant can of Raid.

Posted by: Rob at July 24, 2006 6:22 AM

"god is like a giant can of Raid."

And you just made me snort my coffee. Usually, that's Treacher's job.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2006 8:30 AM


Posted by: Rob at July 24, 2006 9:50 AM

Offtopic, a brilliant link from Kaus:

Posted by: Crid at July 24, 2006 10:07 AM

I'm not sure why there's a fuss. Mr. Tillman, by all indications, wasn't shot on purpose. These things happen, and there's no way to go shoot people in groups without getting lost sometime. Anybody who thinks gun battles are easy learned about them with popcorn in their lap. Pop was on Guadalcanal in WW2. They had a big problem with fratricide. It was nearly fatal to move in the dark in places, no matter who you were or what you were doing. One of the worst battles in history happened on Guadalcanal in full darkness, literally at arm's length, and the Japanese lost. It was maddening to find out you killed a buddy, and that happened to a bunch of Marines Pop knew, but then, it would be dark again in a few hours... do it all over again...

Posted by: Radwaste at July 24, 2006 6:11 PM

those rangers screwed up, royally. but it happens. it's war.

should the parents move on? yes.

should they spank the Army for trying to spin it for good PR? hell yes.

Posted by: g*mart at July 25, 2006 12:52 AM

According to this site ( US fatalities in Iraq from the beginning of the Iraq war up to today (7/25) total 2569. With all due respect to those involved - there are 2568 other grieving families out there. War knows no social or economic boundries - nor favors those of celebrity status. To voluntarily take up arms in a combat zone can place one in the "fatality" column - regardless of last name or NFL career. The Tillmans, unfortunately, are enduring the same grief as every other family that has lost a service member : Complete loss, little - if any - information, and a bureacracy determined to defend itself from complicity. Why is some guy on ESPN talking about what would or wouldn't make the Tillmans "Happy?" The fact that the guy is a Lieutant Colonel is beyond belief and is trying to defend some unit-level investigation he conducted - truly beyond the pale. Let's select any other ten deceased service members and discuss their deaths and the status of their family members on ESPN - that would be good journalism (?). The really intriguing element here is that the family's search for an answer has now become some kind of issue of Christian faith or lack thereof. It's completely irrelevant - he either died by enemy fire or inadvertent "friendly" fire - in either event, he's gone - along with the other 2568 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. Time for ESPN and all others to let him go as well.

As for the Can-of-Raid-God mentioned below : people kill people - you know - Original sin, fallen nature, total depravity, etc - Grace is what's supposed to stop the killing. You'd think after 6,000 years (if you're a fundamental creationist) that we would have learned how not to do the "Cain and Abel." Rather - we divide everyone up into neat little categories and kill those that aren't like us. Zealotry - genuinely "love" in action.

Posted by: Scott at July 25, 2006 9:11 PM

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