Jessica Lynch walks with a limp from the extensive wounds she received in the early days of the invasion of Iraq. Pat Tillman lies in a grave – gunned down by his own comrades in Afghanistan.
Both represent the sacrifices that soldiers make in service to their country. Sadly, both also became pawns of a propaganda machine created tosell an illegal and immoral war to a gullible American public.
The Pentagon’s propaganda machine fabricated Lynch as a petite female Rambo, holding off the enemy after her vehicle was hit by a rocket. In fact, the attack left her unconscious and unable to fight.
“Tales of great heroism were being told,” Lynch told a Congressional hearing Tuesday. “My parent’s home in Wirt county [West Virginia] was under siege of the media all repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting. It was not true.”
Neither was the story of her “rescue,” videotaped by the Army at the height of the invasion. The Army told a harrowing tale of invading an Iraqi compound and liberating her. She was, in fact, in an abandoned medical facility and Iraqi medical staff led soldiers to her. No gunfire. No hostiles. Just a pickup of a prisoner left behind by fleeing forces.
“I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary,” Lynch said. “The American people did not need to be told elaborate tales. The truth of war is not always easy to hear but it always more heroic than the hype.”
When it came to hype, the Army had a ready-made opportunity with Pat Tillman, the NFL player who gave up a multi-million dollar career to join the military during the patriotic pathos of post-9/11 America.
Tillman, along with his brother, became an Army Ranger and went to Afghanistan where he died in combat. The Army said he died heroically fighting the enemy and awarded the slain soldier a Silver Star.
In fact, he died from “friendly fire” in a screw up of communications that brought his location under attack from other American soldiers.
The Army tried to cover it up.
The Army, brother Kevin Tillman, also in Afghanistan that day, concocted “intentional falsehoods” along with “deliberate and careful misrepresentations in portraying his death as the result of heroic engagement with the enemy.”
“We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly the American public,” Tillman said. “Pat’s death was clearly the result of fratricide (friendly fire). Revealing that Pat’s death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters … so the truth needed to be suppressed.”
Reports The Associated Press:
An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when the former football star was cut down by friendly fire in Afghanistan said Tuesday a commanding officer had ordered him to keep quiet about what happened.
The military at first portrayed Tillman’s death as the result of heroic combat with the enemy. Army Spc. Bryan O’Neal told a congressional hearing that when he got the chance to talk to Tillman’s brother, who had been in a nearby convoy on the fateful day, “I was ordered not to tell him what happened.”
“You were ordered not to tell him?” repeated Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Roger that, sir,” replied O’Neal, dressed in his Army uniform.
Ideally, both Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman should be recognized as heroes who served their country in time of war.
Instead, they became pawns in a far-bigger war: a conflict of lies used to sell an invasion launched for fabricated reasons and fought – to this day – for political reasons that have nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 or any actual threat to the peace and security of the United States.
Like all soldiers who have died, come home maimed or face a future of haunting nightmares from an insane war, they deserved far better.