WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pat Tillman, the former National Football League player killed in combat in Afghanistan on April 22, has been awarded the U.S. military’s prestigious Silver Star posthumously, Army Special Forces Command said on Friday.
Tillman, who played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals, turned down a $3.6 million contract from the team to sign up with the Army in 2002. The Army previously posthumously promoted him in rank from specialist to corporal.
The Silver Star recognizes gallantry in action in military operations against enemy forces.
Tillman died at age 27 when his patrol was ambushed close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Army Special Forces Command said Tillman led the lead section of a platoon when the platoon’s trailing team came under enemy fire.
It said that while his part of the platoon was out of danger, Tillman maneuvered his team back toward the fray in order to protect the rest of the platoon, and directed gunfire at the enemy. It said he lost his life, but his efforts helped prevent the rest of the platoon from suffering any casualties.