Was Pat Tillman fragged?

New evidence shows that Tillman was killed with three M-16 bullets to the head from 10 yards away. It’s difficult to see how that could be accidental friendly fire.

There’s more-  a deliberate coverup, no evidence of enemy fire, and Tillman snapping at a comrade to stop “sniveling,” moments before he was killed.

(“Fragging” is a term from the Vietnam War, where US soldiers shot their own troops, usually officers.)


  1. I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory– and there was definitely a coverup in the Tillman case. But…

    Every shooter has a story (and usually only one) about how carelessness caused a round to go where it shouldn’t. Mine sent a .270 caliber round through a wall and into the pantry, making a huge mess and narrowly missing the hot water heater.

    The M-16 typically fires a 3-round burst (in order to conserve ammunition when used by poorly-trained or inexperienced troops). Thus a trigger pull at the wrong moment would send not one but three bullets to their destination.

    In a combat situation, it is not hard for me to imagine a trigger being pulled without a clear shot at the target. Perhaps Tillman raised his head at the last moment, or perhaps someone panicked.

    I’m not saying that’s what happened, I’m just saying three rounds in the same place at thirty feet is not necessarily evidence of a fragging.

  2. Bur it does seem to be evidence he was killed by a US soldier.

  3. Definitely. I understood the coverup was (allegedly) denying that it was a friendly fire incident. (Friendly fire– what an oxymoron!) If it was indeed a fragging, that would take it to another level entirely– but that is unclear from the evidence so far.

  4. The assumption that it “is unclear from the evidence so far”, is likely incorrect. While it is true that we have not been shown this evidence, there is certainly a great deal of evidence available, and this evidence may well establish or refute the existence of a fragging. It is, therefore, quite bothersome that a cover-up clearly occured, and continues. It is also bothersome that our executive branch has employed their usual dodge of claiming executive privilege.

  5. Now I have not seen the autopsy report and I am not a ballistics expert BUT 3 rounds out of a M-16A2 or a M-4 in a tight group can ONLY happen 2 ways: 1) the weapon is set for single shot (normal op) and 3 shots were fired into Tillman’s head or 2) the weapon was set on burst (3 rounds), fired at extremely close range to maintain the tight group. Here’s the problem with either case being an accident: In the first scenario, three well-placed shots in a tight group can be easily achieved from 0 to 300 yards with iron sights. It just takes time and your target can’t be moving. In the second scenario, placing the weapon into burst mode is very unusual, as neither the M-16A2 nor the M-4 are machine guns. The reason for utilizing single shot as opposed to burst is simple: with one pull of the trigger in burst mode, 3 rounds are fired cyclically; unfortunately physics takes over as each round leaves the muzzle it climbs, firing each round higher than the last. As such, the military is trained to use single shot mode to conserve ammunition as well as maintain a high level of accuracy. The burst mode would be used in a final protective fire i.e., your position is being overrun or your machine gunner is dead and your platoon needs to maintain its superior firepower while engaged. As a former member of our military, the handling of Pat Tillman’s death by the military and Bush administration makes me physically sick. To think how the Tillman family has been put through HELL over this. Shame on the United States. Tillman’s officers in his command should be put to death for the perversion that has taken place. It is hard for me to believe NO ONE in his chain of command had the courage and integrity to stand up and make this right!!

  6. Thanks for the valuable information.

    Thus it would seem difficult for three shots in burst mode to hit close together in the head, because the second and third rounds would hit higher, while in single shot, it seems improbable that three shots to the head could be accidental.

    Agreed, the cover up here has been sickening.

  7. “physics takes over as each round leaves the muzzle it climbs, firing each round higher than the last.”

    I have never fired an automatic weapon, nor have I ever fired an M-16. But I have experienced the phenomenon with a semi-auto rifle fired rapidly, as well as with a friend’s Soviet-made AK-47 that occasionally (and inexplicably) fires 3-5 shot bursts. At 100 yards, firing this way is virtually useless (outside a military setting), as the second and subsequent rounds hit successively higher, and do not hit the target.

    But Bob reports that Tillman was shot at 10 yards. At this distance, the same angle of change results in a much smaller distance between shots. For example, if the second shot hits 12″ higher than the first at 100 yards, that’s .19 degrees. A .19 degree increase would rise only 1.2″ at 10 yards. I would not be surprised to see a 3-shot burst in a three-inch or four-inch circle at ten yards– much smaller than the size of a man’s head.

    Once again, this proves nothing either way. And that’s the point: we do not yet have enough information. No doubt someone does, but it’s not us.

  8. QUOTE: “It is hard for me to believe NO ONE in his chain of command had the courage and integrity to stand up and make this right!!”

    It is? Where have you been? And now they might cut $10K off a 3-star’s pension so he can be the fall guy? At least Scooter Libby avoided jail in return for his silence.

    Not to defend the dereliction of duty the Army’s entire chain of command exihibited here, but – right or wrong (and guess which one I choose?) – they take their cues from the civilian leadership. “Mistakes were made.” “We screwed up here.” (in no less than four separate investigations, btw…) and my personal favorite from Donald Rumsfeld that there was “no evidence of coverup.” Is he really thumbing his nose at Congress, saying “We’re not saying there wasn’t one, you just don’t have any evidence yet. Catch us if you can.”?

    Of course, Jessica Lynch was a hero and there was no torture at Abu Graihb. But Lt. Gen Abizaid said Tillman died from enemy fire when he knew otherwise and the then Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Gen Richard Myers, defends his failure to set the record straight to his superiors (he too knew the truth within a week of Tillman’s death) saying ” “I don’t think there’s any regulation that would require me to do anything.” Continuing from the AP story, “He blamed the Army.”

    The Army used to be honorable. Events would seem to say that honor is more and more an option rather than an absolute.

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