Pat Tillman, an NFL linebacker and an elite Army Ranger, was undeniably a tough guy. But he was also remarkably mushy when it came to his wife Marie, writing about her in his journal with a fervor and an eloquence that many women would say came close to poetry.
On embarking on his three-year Ranger hitch, Tillman wrote, "Not only will the next 3 years make me a stronger person, mentally and physically, I know it will also free up my conscience to enjoy what I have. My hope is that I will feel satisfied with my accomplishment... enough to relax and just be. Be with Marie."
"Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with an injection of intense sorrow that is difficult to control. An intense need to be close to Marie, surrounded by her touch, smell, sound, beauty and ease. It's as though one week of pain is condensed into 5-7 minutes... What have I done?"
The pain of missing his wife was jubilantly relieved when the two rendezvoused at a motel during a leave after Tillman completed basic training. Marie was standing in front of the motel waiting for her husband. The delirious reunion was described by another soldier, Tulio Tourinho, who was with Tillman.
"As soon as the cab stops, Pat leaps out the door. Marie runs up and jumps on him, knocking him off balance, and they both fall to the ground. They just lay there, kissing each other and staring at each other - him caressing her face, caressing her hair, telling how much he missed her, how much he loves her. They stayed on the ground like that for what seemed like ten minutes... It was an amazing moment. A demonstration of absolute love," Tourinho told Jon Krakauer, the author of "Where Men Win Glory."
Watch the story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET and watch best-selling author Jon Krakauer's first live interview about his new book "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman" Monday on "Good Morning America."
Tillman first met Marie Ugenti when he was 4-years-old and his kids soccer team played her team. While Tillman was the good looking jock, he didn't really have any dates until his senior year in high school. One of his first dates was Marie, and they were in love until his death 11 years later.
After graduating from Leland High School, Tillman went to Arizona State University where he starred on the Sun Devils football team. Marie applied to ASU, but decided she would regret making a college decision "based on some boy." She enrolled instead at the University of California Santa Barbara.
In the first days of college, "Pat missed Marie and his family so acutely during this period that he sometimes found himself reduced to tears," Krakauer wrote.
Their bond endured through college and couple were married May 4, 2002. By then, Tillman was a professional football player with the Arizona Cardinals. The couple was planning on starting a family. Life looked good. They skiied in Tahoe, went ice climbing in Utah, visited Santa Fe and California, and were looking forward to a trip to Bora Bora.