In his first public statements about the death of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player turned Army Ranger, one of the fellow Rangers involved in the 2004 friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” he has lived for 10 years with the thought that he might have fired the fatal shots.
“It is possible, in my mind, that I hit him,” said Steven Elliott, who had been engaged in his first firefight as an Army Ranger when Tillman died on April 22, 2004, in the mountainous terrain of southeast Afghanistan.
The events leading up to one of the most infamous friendly-fire deaths in U.S. military history were rife for second-guessing from the start: After an Army Humvee broke down in the mountains, Tillman’s platoon was ordered divided by superiors so that the Humvee could be removed; a local truck driver was hired as the hauler. But the two groups struggled to communicate with each other as they traversed the steep terrain. And the second group soon became caught in a deafening ambush, receiving fire as it maneuvered down a narrow, rocky canyon trail.