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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Thousands pay tribute to Tillman

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posted on May, 8 2004 @ 02:01 PM
Pat Tillman, the first NFL player to die in combat since the Vietnam War, was lionized as a heroic idealist in a second memorial Saturday -- this one on the field where he had some of his brightest moments in sports.

His parents, widow Maria and many former teammates and coaches attended the service, which attracted an estimated 5,000 onlookers to Sun Devil Stadium. Tillman, 27, played for Arizona State and the Arizona Cardinals, which share the university-owned stadium.

The first service was held Monday in a municipal rose garden in San Jose, Calif., Tillman's hometown.

An Army Ranger who gave up a $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman has put a face on U.S. military personnel serving overseas.

"When I went back to Tennessee to our last practice, every man on the team came up to me," said Titans assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, the Cardinals coach during Tillman's career. "These types of noble acts by men of Pat Tillman's stature are going to reverberate for a long, long time."

Tillman was fatally shot April 22 in Afghanistan in a firefight near the Pakistan border. The Army posthumously promoted him to corporal and awarded him the Silver Star for valor and the Purple Heart, saying he was leading his team to help ambushed soldiers pinned down by enemy fire.

The observance began with a flyover of F-16 fighters and concluded with a video tribute.


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