Military Wire: When you kill a fellow soldier — the death of Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman

Most don’t wear their struggles on the outside. We keep them buried. But we all struggle with something. Unfortunately, some allow those struggles and the difficult experiences to shape and define who they are — and that becomes a heavy weight to carry.

Imagine if you were most likely responsible for the death of a fellow soldier…that’s tough. Hard. And what if that soldier was American Hero Pat Tillman. For those who don’t recall who Pat Tillman was, he was America’s hero. He turned down a $3.6 million NFL football contract in favor of military service.  He became a media and American hero overnight — who leaves a multi-million dollar NFL gig to join the Army for such little pay? He was the perfect recruiting hero for the Army as well – and even better that he became a Ranger.

And on April 22, 2004 the narrative changed.

Pat was struck in the head with multiple rounds. His body armor did no good.

Steven Elliott

Steven Elliott, author of War Story, shares how he worked through being one of two most likely responsible for Pat Tillman’s death.

Steven Elliott joined the military in 2003 and served as a member of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. In 2004, he deployed to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In the midst of enemy ambush, he was one of four Rangers who mistook Pat Tillman’s position for that of the enemy and fired there.  But after the investigation, it was determined that he was one of two individuals responsible for the shot that ended Pat Tillman’s life.

Steven allowed that experience to grip him — turned to alcohol, lost his marriage, lost hope. But his story doesn’t end there — it doesn’t end with a tragic suicide of someone consumed by his past actions. His story is a story of renewal — of overcoming. Each one of us is capable of breaking free from our past when we move from HOW to get through something to WHO can help me get through it.

In our podcast interview, Steven shares his personal encounter with war and faith, love and tragedy, and what he did to come out the other side shaped — but not defined — by his past. You can also learn more in this video.

Steven will be at Sozo Wine in Sea-Tac to share his story and sign books on Saturday, June 22, 2019. If you need hope, or just want to show support, this event is for you. Get your tickets – space is limited.

Bottom line: Your past doesn’t have to define you and keep you captive. If you have ever struggled with the experiences of your past, find a friend. Your mess can be part of your message that will inspire hope in someone else.

— By Mike Schindler

Edmonds resident Mike Schindler is the founder and chief executive officer of Operation Military Family Cares –– a 501(c)(3) veteran service organization and technology provider that combats veteran homelessness, while working to strengthen relationships and equip communities and families for success.

  1. The average person can only imagine what a struggle to survive psychologically this poor man went through. Thanks, Mike, for bringing this story to our attention, as I think it puts a little perspective on the type of things we go back and forth about in our little town online newspaper here. The world out there is a tough place, both beautiful and horrible at the same time. Many of our problems and issues are minor in comparison to what lots of people endure every day of their lives at home and around the World.

    1. Clinton you are spot-on. We debate first world problems, which is certainly everyone’s right to do, while a small few stand in the gap ensuring bad stuff doesn’t happen. That happens here locally (our first responders), regionally, state to state, nationally, and certainly internationally…and in the act of protecting others, sometimes accidents happen.

      Steven is a tremendous man, remarried his wife, is a super dad, and invests his time giving back and helping high capacity individuals find causes. He learned to move past his experience to define him – a lesson we can all learn from.

      So…you can imagine why I rarely get worked up over comments – my eyes and ears have seen far worse.

      I appreciate your comments Clinton.

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