Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman

Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman

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by Mary Tillman, Narda Zacchino
     
 

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On April 22, 2004, Lieutenant David Uthlaut received orders from Khost, Afghanistan, that his platoon was to leave the town of Magarah and "have boots on the ground before dark" in Manah, a small village on the border of Pakistan. It was an order the young lieutenant protested vehemently, but the commanders at the Tactical Command Center disregarded his objections.

Overview

On April 22, 2004, Lieutenant David Uthlaut received orders from Khost, Afghanistan, that his platoon was to leave the town of Magarah and "have boots on the ground before dark" in Manah, a small village on the border of Pakistan. It was an order the young lieutenant protested vehemently, but the commanders at the Tactical Command Center disregarded his objections. Uthlaut split his platoon into two serials, with serial one traveling northwest to Manah and serial two towing a broken Humvee north toward the Khost highway. By nightfall, Uthlaut and his radio operator were seriously wounded, and an Afghan militia soldier and a U.S. soldier were dead. The American soldier was my son, Pat Tillman.

The Tillman family was originally informed that Pat, who had given up a professional football career to serve his country, had been shot in the head while getting out of a vehicle. At his memorial service twelve days later, they were told that he was killed while running up a hill in pursuit of the enemy. He was awarded a Silver Star for his courageous actions. A month and two days after his death, the family learned that Pat had been shot three times in the head by his own troops in a "friendly fire" incident. Seven months after Pat's death, the Tillmans requested an investigation.

Boots on the Ground by Dusk is a chronicle of their efforts to ascertain the true circumstances of Pat's death and the reasons why the Army gave the family and the public a false story. Woven into the account are valuable and respectful memories of Pat Tillman as a son, brother, husband, friend, and teammate, in the hope that the reader will better comprehend what is really lost when our sons and daughters are killed or maimed in war.

In the course of three and a half years, there have been six investigations, several inquiries, and two Congressional hearings. The Tillmans are still awaiting an outcome.

Editorial Reviews

Tara McKelvey
Much of the story has been revealed in newspapers and Congressional testimony. Yet Boots on the Ground by Dusk offers something other accounts do not: the heartache of searching for answers about a son's death…it overflows with love and moral outrage.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

This gripping and emotional memoir by Mary Tillman relates the tragic story of her son Pat who gave up dreams of playing in the NFL to fight in Afghanistan and lost his life at the hands of his fellow soldiers. Tillman gives a stirring, raw and honest reading, relating her struggles both internally and with the less than forthcoming U.S. government, as well as her son's incredible life story. Despite the heightened emotions at work, Tillman never loses focus and presses on to deliver a memorable reading as solemn as it is tender. Pat Tillman's story has been shrouded in mystery since his death in 2004 at the age of 27; Mary Tillman brings her son justice with this audio. A Modern Times hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 3). (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Eulogy, investigative report and all-out condemnation of the U.S. military-and those who control it. When NFL player Pat Tillman gave up a multimillion-dollar contract to enlist in 2002, more than a few people-including his family-questioned his judgment. Inspired by 9/11, however, Tillman and his brother Kevin chose to become Army Rangers. Two years later, Pat was killed in Afghanistan. Hailed as a heroic patriot by the Bush administration during a period when good news was in short supply, Tillman was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his valor-accolades that seemed almost cruel when it came to light that Tillman was killed under mysterious circumstances by members of his own platoon. Though known primarily as a football player, Tillman's athletic feats are little more than footnotes in his mother's plaintive, cathartic reminiscence about Pat's childhood and his closeness with brothers Richard and Kevin, relationships with friends and abundant intellectual curiosity. Her rage over his death-and the obfuscation that followed-is palpable, however, and is at least as strong as her grief. Alongside fond memories and recollections of Pat's charismatic bluntness and self-sacrificing nature, Mary details her family's exhaustive search for the truth with the help of allies ranging from Senator John McCain to retired General Wesley Clark to numerous investigative reporters. Standing in the way, however, are layers of military bureaucracy, blocking every attempt to get records, and, perhaps, an administration unwilling to admit that it was fully prepared to leverage Pat's accidental death as a tool to increase support for the war. Mary's tender tributes are achinglysincere, though they sometimes sit awkwardly alongside the in-depth details surrounding the search for the truth. But the chilling results yielded by the Tillman family's unflagging efforts indicate that Pat's death was, at best, a result of gross negligence and incompetence on the part of the U.S. Army and, at worst, a sinister coverup by high-ranking officials willing to lie to a soldier's family and hoodwink the public in exchange for higher approval ratings. Moving, powerful and overwhelmingly distressing. Agent: Steve Wasserman/Kneerim & Williams
From the Publisher

“Alongside fond memories and recollections of Pat's charismatic bluntness and self-sacrificing nature, Mary details her family's exhaustive search for the truth with the help of allies ranging from Senator John McCain to retired General Wesley Clark to numerous investigative reporters...the chilling results yielded by the Tillman family's unflagging efforts indicate that Pat's death was, at best, a result of gross negligence and incompetence on the part of the U.S. Army and, at worst, a sinister coverup by high-ranking officials willing to lie to a soldier's family and hoodwink the public in exchange for higher approval ratings.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605299242
Publisher:
Rodale
Publication date:
04/29/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
572,944
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Moving, powerful and overwhelmingly distressing." —-Kirkus

Meet the Author

Mary Tillman is a special education teacher in San Jose, California, where she lives.

Narda Zacchino is former associate editor of the Los Angeles Times and former deputy editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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Boots on the Ground by Dusk 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been curious to read about Pat Tillman since serving with him in Afghanistan. I was stationed at Kandahar Army Airfield during OEF 4. I was an air crewman in an Army National Guard CH-47D company at the time and our unit was responsible for troop insertion and resupply of units in the filed. I found some of the information presented in this book to be inaccurate, but will let the reader make their own assertions as to the facts. I felt that the first half of the book was a proper tribute to the memory of Pat Tillman, but the second half was more political. I feel that the facts presented were skewed towards proving the theory that there was cover up or worse by the Bush administration. I am not political and read the book with an open mind, but just couldn't believe how paranoid the author seemed at times. I also found the writing style disjointed at times. I am sympathetic towards the Tillman family and do not wish any ill will with my critical review. Simply put, I just didn't like the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can only imagine the courage it took to write this book. Anyone who has lost a child can empathize with Ms. Tillman. I admire Pat Tillman's sense of patriotism and duty to this county. It is few and far between the "celebrity" that would voluntarily give up fame and fortune to defend this country. I greatly respect his decision to do what he thought was right. The American of today could learn a great lesson from this man, regardless of the circumstances behind his death.
tanker62 More than 1 year ago
Mary Tillman loved her son; this is evident through out this book. Pat Tillman was remarkable for what he did. That is also very evident. Unfortunately, Mary Tillman subtracts from Pat's memory and legacy by airing her sour grapes. She was not happy with Pat's decision to join the military; She states that outright in these pages. Mary Tillman was not happy with the Bush administration. That is also evident. But rather than being a "tribute" to Pat, she sullies his memory. She actually commits the same "sin" that she accuses the Army and the government of: contradiction. She insinuates that there is a conspiracy theory to have her son killed in order to help the nation "rally 'round the flag. Then she presents a wonderful case that there was no conspiracy theory; There were a bunch of scared soldiers on the ground, with visions of glory or whatever in their minds, shooting so that they can be part of the fight. Unfortunately, Pat was in the line of fire. She lays out faulty logic to back up her insinuations, Why did Pat's body armor have multiple bullet strikes, why did they perform CPR on him, knowing he was dead, why was there no control on the ground, why did the soldiers not positively ID their targets before pulling the trigger, why did they burn her son's uniform at the hospital? She barely touches, if at all addresses the logical explanations for these questions. She leaves the questions out there, with the insinuation that her son was targeted by his own government, in order to be able to put a PR spin that Pat Tillman died a hero's death, fighting for his country as a US Army Ranger, despite having a bright future in football, he sacrificed it all for his country. How about this story, the Army is chagrined that Tillman is accidentally killed by his own friends during a bad situation and to spare the family and the nation heart ache and to save the Army the embarrassment, they embellish the story somewhat. The bottom line is that the truth lies somewhere between Mary Tillman's venom and the Army's spin. Pat Tillman, a great American in my eyes, walks away from a promising professional football career and joins the Army to fight for his country. While fighting, his unit gets into a bad situation, he behaves bravely and does what he's been trained to do, return controlled fire on an enemy force, while leading his soldiers to do the same. That's a lot more than some soldiers ever actually do. If you eliminate the conspiracy theory, this is a powerful and moving book. When Tillman was first killed, I was upset that the Army made such a big deal about his death and some Soldiers barely get recognized when they die. ALL Soldiers have promising lives. This is one of those lives that tragically ended too soon. Mary is a mother who is hurting who has been spun by the best spin doctors, the media. She does it, trying to explain why her son died, as any mother would. But, in the end, when she finished writing the book, sadly, Pat was still just as dead. When I finished reading the book, same result. When the 100 millionth reader finishes reading the book - it'll be the same result. I feel sorry for Mary, having to bury her son. I feel pride and great respect for Pat. No matter whether it was friendly fire that struck Pat or not, Pat still died a heroes death. We should take the lessons from the mistakes to make sure that they never happen again!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pat Tillman was not a perfect person but was brave and honorable in a world that seldom is. His death, at the hands of other American soldiers in Afghanistan and covered up by our military confirms how difficult it can be for a family to obtain the truth from our government when it doesn't suit those in charge. The story is an outline of those struggles as the truth surrounding his death comes to light only after constant follow-up by his family. At the time the book was written, Mary Tillman still didn't believe all that happend had been revealed. The book contains stories of Pat's childhood and early manhood, with his imperfections revealed. I felt his mother handled the story in a balanced way and I truly learned to love this young man for his bravery, forthrightness and selflessness. As I read Pat's story, I cried often at the loss to his family and this world. As a mother myself, I felt Mary Tillman's pain and frustration and have thought of Pat often since reading his story.
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I wasn't sure how I was going to like this book, I thought it would be all about Pat Tillman and all the greatness that he did, which I do not deny happened. But the book definitely was a different side to the story. The side that most people don't hear. The part of the story that we all wish that we would have known, his life before he was in the army. The family like and the reactions of those members. Definitely a book that I would suggest anybody who was interested in the Tillman story to read, and even people who weren't interested in the story but just want a good book to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am an NFL fan, when I heard about Pat Tillman's enlistment into the military and then his death I was grateful that his family shared Pat's story with the rest of the world. I immediately picked up a copy and read the book page by page, this is a page turner. A very account of what the Tillman family went through during the days after Pat's death. Touching story.
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