Tillman wrote about the incident in his journal on March 30, 2003 -- the day before Lynch's highly publicized rescue: "This mission will be a POW rescue, a woman named Jessica Lynch. I do believe this to be a big public relations stunt. Do not mistake me, I wish everyone in trouble to be rescued but sending this many folks in for a single low-ranking soldier screams of media blitz in any case, I'm glad to be able to do my part and I hope we bring her home safe."
Tillman questioned the motives behind the large operation and feared that if something similar happened to him, he, too, would be used as propaganda by the Bush administration. He shared his feelings with U.S. Army Ranger Jade Lane.
"One night Pat [told Lane], 'You know, if I get killed over here, don't let them parade me through the street, that's something I just -- I hate to think about. I'm afraid if I die, you know they're going to make me into this symbol and they're going to parade through the street, you know, don't let that happen," Krakauer told ABC News.
On April 22, 2004, Tillman's platoon was on a mission in the mountains of Afghanistan when they were crippled by a broken-down Humvee.
"It's this tragic cascade of decisions," Krakauer said. "They're in the middle of nowhere. They requested a helicopter to come lift it out. It's a routine thing."
A decision made by a senior commander at Bagram Air Base sealed Tillman's fate. "Because of the war in Iraq, there weren't nearly enough helicopters in Afghanistan," Krakauer said. "And, so, when they requested to lift this thing away, they were told, can't do it. We need 96 hours, you know, four days before we can tow this away."
Instead of waiting, the platoon leader was ordered to split his men into two groups, or series.
"One group went one way," Krakauer said. "The other half of the platoon was supposed to tow this Humvee over this mountain. They hired a local Afghan to tow it. When they got to the mountain, the driver said, 'We can't go over there. We should follow the other platoon."
Group two was 15 minutes behind group one when they were ambushed in a canyon.
Tillman was in group one, his brother Kevin was in the other.
When Tillman's group heard the explosion, they raced to get in position to help their platoon mates.
"I heard the gunfire, and then I saw the tracer rounds -- pouring out of the canyon," said Aker, who was with Pat Tillman in group one. "It was like -- It was almost like a fireworks show. And my adrenaline just immediately spiked. And then once I got out of the vehicle my squad leader, you know, he was like, 'All right. This is it. Calm down, you know this is what we trained for.' And then we charged up the hill."
Communications were down -- and group two was unaware that their fellow rangers were on the ridge ready to support them.
"The guys being ambushed came racing out, guns blazing," Krakauer said.
Tillman and an Afghan soldier were both killed by friendly fire. Several members of the platoon witnessed the tragedy.
"I saw him slump over and I saw a grabbing and pulling back and that's when I thought he was hit," Boatright said. "There was a mist of red."
The military informed Tillman's family that Tillman was killed by the Taliban. His platoon mates disagree with the military's actions.