Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
13 Years After His Death, Pat Tillman Returns To His Alma Mater
In 2004, NFL football player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed in a friendly fire incident in the Khost province of Afghanistan. Thirteen years later, Tillman has returned to his alma mater — Arizona State University — as a bronze statue that will greet Sun Devil fans for generations to come.
Tillman attended ASU from 1994 to 1997, where he played linebacker. There, he distinguished himself as a powerful key player, despite his relatively small stature for the position. During his junior year, in no small part thanks to Tillman’s efforts, the team went undefeated until the Ohio State Buckeyes gave them their first loss in the 1997 Rose Bowl. But Tillman wasn’t just a good football player: he excelled academically, graduating with a 3.85 GPA.
"We're grateful to Arizona State University and the Sun Devil community for honoring Pat's legacy,” Marie Tillman, his widow and the board chair and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, said in a statement to Task & Purpose. “Pat made his mark as a student, athlete and soldier. We hope his statue stands as a reminder of the principles he lived by and his dedication to empower those around him on and off the field."
Tillman was drafted in 1998 by the Arizona Cardinals, but his plans for the future changed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. After finishing up the 2001 season in March 2002, Tillman turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract to continue playing with the Cardinals to enlist in the Army that May alongside his brother Kevin, who turned down a spot with the Cleveland Indians. The two brother completed basic training in September 2002 and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program at Fort Benning, Georgia, shortly thereafter.
After serving in Iraq during the initial invasion in 2003, Tillman deployed the following year to FOB Salerno in the Khost province of Afghanistan with 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. But on April 24, 2004, a friendly fire incident took his life. A Washington Post article from 2004 suggested “the incident was the result of a series of problems and failures as the Ranger platoon moved from one assignment to another through the mountainous terrain along the Pakistan border, about 90 miles south of Kabul, near the village of Spera” — a senseless mistake.
The newly designed Sun Devil Stadium is something of an homage to Tillman. Before entering the field, the players all exit the locker room and run through a vestibule of motivating phrases called Tillman Tunnel, and every wall of the stadium has a picture of the revered soldier. The statue, according to head coach Todd Graham, will be a reminder to all the players to persevere both on and off the field.
“We start the tradition this year of every player touching the that statue before they take the field,” Graham said in a statement to Task & Purpose. “I can tell you what my message is going to be is don't talk about it. If you are going to go out there and touch that statue, you get out on that field and you bring it like he did.”
Marie Tillman continues to run the Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their spouses by offering them academic scholarships at places like ASU.
“Sun Devil Athletics is extraordinarily proud as we pay tribute to one of the greatest and most well-respected Sun Devils in history,” Ray Anderson, vice president for ASU athletics, said in a statement. “The magnitude of Pat's legacy extends far beyond this university, this community and the state of Arizona.”
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."