The text of the “P4” memo about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman.
Then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said suspicion led him to send a memo to top generals imploring “our nation’s leaders,” specifically “POTUS” — the acronym for the president — to avoid cribbing the “devastating enemy fire” explanation from the award citation for their speeches.
The message, sent April 29, 2004, was sent to Gen. John Abizaid, then head of U.S. Central Command; Gen. Bryan Douglas Brown, then head of the U.S. Special Operations Command; and Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger, then head of the Army Special Operations Command. The Associated Press obtained and published the memo in March.
In the aftermath of Corporal Patrick Tillman’s untimely yet heroic death in Afghanistan on 22 April 04, it is anticipated that a 15-6 investigation nearing completion will find that it is highly possible that Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire. This potential finding is exacerbated by the unconfirmed but suspected reports that POTUS and the secretary of the Army might include comments about Corporal Tillman’s heroism and his approved Silver Star medal in speeches currently being prepared, not knowing the specifics surrounding his death.
The potential that he might have been killed by friendly fire in no way detracts from his witnessed heroism or the recommended personal decoration for valor in the face of the enemy. Corporal Tillman was killed in a complicated battlespace geometry involving two separate Ranger vehicle serials traversing through severe terrain along a winding 500-600 foot defile in which friendly forces were fired upon by multiple enemy positions. Corporal Tillman disembarked from his vehicle, and in support of his fellow Rangers and demonstrating great concern for their welfare over care for his own safety entered the enemy kill-zone into which both enemy and friendly fire impacted.
I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country’s leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman’s death become public.