Harry should reject ‘public service’ award for war hero – it won’t please our troops, says military chief – The Irish Sun

Harry should reject ‘public service’ award for war hero – it won’t please our troops, says military chief – The Irish Sun

Prince Harry should reject an award honouring an American war hero because it would not please our military, a military leader says.

The Duke of Sussex, 39, is set to receive the Pat Tillman Service Award for his work at the Invictus Games at the lavish ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on July 11.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle received the President’s Award at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards in 2022Credit: Rex
The former Royal Navy chief and Falklands War hero said Harry’s victory would not be popular with the troops.Credit: PA
Pat Tillman was an NFL player before joining the U.S. Army and was later killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan.Credits: Reuters

Harry’s win sparked controversy, with the mother of the man after whom the award is named saying there were people “much more capable” than Harry.

The former head of the Royal Navy has now urged the prince to refuse the award and said it did not sit well with people in the military, the Daily Mail reports.

Lord West said Harry should think “long and hard” before accepting awards for military bravery.

He said: “Part of the blame has to go to ESPN. They like to pick him because it gives them huge publicity. But it’s pretty bad publicity for Harry.”

“I really think it would be wise to advise Harry not to accept these kinds of awards. It doesn’t go down well with the military. And when the dead man’s mother doesn’t want him to receive the award, he should think about it.”

“I advise him to rest and not accept any rewards for the moment. They are going in his favor because he has a lot of fame and people want to take advantage of that.”

For the past 10 years, the Pat Tillman Service Award has been “given to an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman,” according to ESPN.

Tillman’s life was tragically cut short when he was killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan.

Pat’s mother Mary has previously attacked the Duke, saying there were other people “far more capable” and with less “privilege” who could win the award.

She said: “There are recipients who are much better suited. There are people who work in the veteran community and do wonderful things to help veterans.

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“These individuals do not have the money, resources, connections or privileges that Prince Harry has. I think these types of individuals should be recognized.”

Another retired military officer, Colonel Richard Kemp, said the award was just “a reward for celebrities to stroke each other’s egos.”

He previously told The Sun: “He was a gunner in an Apache helicopter in Afghanistan, but so were many, many other people.

“I can think of many people who have done quite extraordinary things while serving in the British and American armed forces who would be far more deserving of an award like this.

Past recipients of the Pat Tillman Service Award include:

The Buffalo Bills practice squad (2023) after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field.

Retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans (2022) who founded Team Unbroken, an adaptive racing team comprised primarily of veterans.

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford (2021)

Kim Clavel, healthcare worker and boxing champion (2020)

Kristie Ennis, former Marine and founder of the Kristie Ennis Foundation (2019)

Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant and Team Rubicon founder Jake Wood (2018)

Israel Del Toro, Purple Heart recipient and Invictus Games gold medalist (2017)

U.S. Army Sergeant and Invictus Games Gold Medalist Elizabeth Marks (2016)

Former Notre Dame basketball player, Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (2015)

Josh Sweeney, American ice sled hockey player, Paralympic gold medalist and Purple Heart recipient (2014)

“It’s obviously because of who he is, not what he did. An Apache is flown by two people: a pilot and a gunner. Harry was a gunner. He was the number two on the plane.

“There have been incredible aeronautical exports from helicopter pilots in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones.

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“There are extraordinary stories – many covered by The Sun – involving enormous flying skill and great bravery.

“As far as I know, Harry – although I applaud him for going there and doing that – has not accomplished such feats.”

What happened to Pat Tillman?

ESPN chronicled Tillman’s tragic death in 2014 as the 10th anniversary approached.

Tillman was a safety for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals for four seasons before joining the Army.

He enlisted eight months after 3,000 people were killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Tillman, a California native, turned down a $3.6 million contract offer when he joined the Army.

“The events leading up to one of the most infamous friendly fire deaths in American military history were ripe for doubt from the start,” ESPN reported.

“After an Army Humvee broke down in the mountains, Tillman’s platoon was split up by his superiors so the Humvee could be pulled out; a local truck driver was hired as a transporter.

“But the two groups struggled to communicate with each other as they traversed the steep terrain. And the second group quickly found itself caught in a deafening ambush, taking fire as it maneuvered along a narrow, rocky canyon trail.”

According to ESPN, a squad leader mistook an allied Afghan soldier positioned next to Tillman for the enemy.

The troopers were shooting what Ranger Steven Elliott called “dark images,” ESPN reported.

Prince Harry is greeted by his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, upon his return to Britain in 2008Credits: Getty
ESPN said the Invictus Games have “transcended borders and impacted the lives of people on every continent”Credits: Getty