Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Today is the seventh anniversary of Pat Tillman’s assassination in Afghanistan. On April 22, 2004 Tillman and several other Army Rangers were given an odd order to split their motorized squad and proceed toward a village called Magarah. The original mission was to recover a broken-down Humvee from a rocky and almost impassable trail through a steep gorge. The Humvee was being towed by a local “jinga” truck, rather than by one of the working Humvees. Tillman and the others got to the village before the guys with the towed Humvee and were waiting for them when three Afghan kids fired an RPG, with an effective range of 250 yards, from 800 yards. It hit on the wall of the gorge and made some noise and loosened up some dirt and rocks. But, no harm done. Nevertheless, the vaunted Rangers lost control of themselves and fired their arsenal of a .50 caliber Browning, 40mm grenade machine gun, .30 caliber machine guns and .223 caliber machine guns plus their small .223 rifles, called M-4s. They fired until they were out of ammo and had to get into their reserve ammo supply.
Tillman and the other guys were watching this show from above. Tillman’s sergeant, Matthew Weeks, ordered him and Bryan O’Neal and an Afghan named Thani to go down on foot closer to the road, which they did. The lead Humvee came within view of Tillman and from a range of about one hundred feet, opened up on him and the two others, killing the Afghan and wounding Tillman after he waved his arms at them not to shoot. They dove behind a couple of one-foot high rocks and O’Neal asked if he was okay. One of Tillman’s legs was severely wounded. He threw a purple smoke grenade to show they were Americans and kept yelling at the nearby Humvee shooters. Both Tillman and O’Neal waved their arms at the Humvee. The Rangers in the Humvees stopped shooting for a minute. Tillman and O’Neal thought it was safe to show themselves.
Tillman identified himself loudly, saying “Hold your fire! I’m Pat f****** Tillman!” Specialist Trevor Alders opened up again with his .223 machine gun and hit Pat Tillman from about one hundred feet away. Now, both Tillman and O’Neal were in the same uniforms as the other Rangers, wearing the distinctive Kevlar helmets, carrying the same M-4 rifles. The Humvee guys knew that the other guys were up ahead and still they did this.
Here’s where it gets strange. The autopsy photos supposedly show three .223 holes in Tillman’s forehead, in a two- to three-inch group. I haven’t seen the photos. It is not possible to shoot a three-inch group into a guy’s forehead with a machine gun from one hundred feet, for several reasons. Number one, high-power rounds do not follow each other single file into the target; they veer off a little from the recoil of the one just before. Yes, once you get the gun settled down from the first few rounds, you can bring it to bear pretty closely but not that closely. A look at the rock next to Tillman’s position with about twenty hits on it shows the shotgun-like spread resulting from the weapons jumping around slightly. A hundred foot range allows a pretty good spread from any machine gun.
Number two, the Kevlar helmet covers the forehead and generally stops the .223 round. Number three, the guy drops from the first hit and you can’t follow him down to put the second and third rounds next to the first hole. Number four, a .223 round to the forehead doesn’t leave any forehead for the next two rounds to put holes in. The only way you can get a group of three .223 rifle bullets so tight is to kill the guy with the first shot and then shoot him again twice more when you get next to him. But three high-power holes in a tight little group? No way...[Full Article]