WASHINGTON, April 24 (UPI) -- The last soldier to see U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman alive in Afghanistan in 2004 said he was ordered not to tell details of Tillman's death to his family.
Tillman, a former safety for the Arizona Cardinals, interrupted his NFL career to join the Army after Sept. 11, 2001. He was killed by "friendly fire" in a skirmish near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in April 2004, but Army officials spread a story that Tillman had died in a firefight with enemy combatants during an ambush in a mountain pass, CNN said.
Tillman was awarded the Silver Star.
"I wanted to know right off the bat what happened to him," Spc. Bryan O'Neal told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during a hearing Tuesday. "I was ordered not to tell."
He said he was told by superiors not to divulge that Tillman had been accidentally shot by another member of his unit. Kevin Tillman, his brother, said the military released a "manufactured narrative" of the incident that was "utter fiction" and stuck with the false account for more than a month before admitting it was misleading.
Tillman said a field report that Spc. Pat Tillman was "transferred to an intensive care unit for continued CPR after most of his head had been taken off by multiple .556 rounds is not misleading. These are deliberate and calculated lies," he said.