Pat Tillman was born on November 6, 1976, in Fremont, California. He graduated from Arizona State University in 1998, where he played as a linebacker for the college's football team, and then played as a safety for the Arizona Cardinals professional football team from 1998 to 2001. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Specialist (E-4) on May 31, 2002, and went on active duty to attend basic training on July 8, 2002. SPC Tillman completed basic training in September 2002, Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in November 2002, and Infantry training at Fort Benning in January 2003. After completing the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Lewis, Washington, and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from April to September 2003. He next attended Ranger School at Fort Benning from September to November 2003, and again served with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Lewis until deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2004. CPL Tillman was killed in action by friendly fire while on a combat mission near Sperah, Afghanistan, on April 22, 2004. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. Pat Tillman was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action while serving with the 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, during action in Afghanistan on 22 April 2004, against an armed enemy while serving as a Rifle Team Leader in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Caught between the crossfire of an enemy near ambush, Corporal Tillman put himself in the line of devastating enemy fire as he maneuvered his fire team to a covered position from which they could effectively employ their weapons on known enemy positions. His audacious leadership and courageous example under fire inspired his men to fight at great risk to their own personal safety, resulting in the enemy's withdrawal, his platoon's safe passage from the ambush kill zone, and his mortal wound. Corporal Tillman's personal courage, tactical expertise, and professional competence directly contributed to his platoon's overall success and survival. In making the ultimate sacrifice for his team and platoon, Corporal Patrick D. Tillman reflected great credit upon himself, the Joint Task Force, and the United States Army.