"We start to see the walls slowly climb up, and get higher, and higher. And the sun is setting, so there's like this gigantic shadow cast into the canyon. And all you can feel is this like, ominous glow come over you. And you think about how this is not a good place to be right now. And this would probably be the best spot to, boom. You know? A mortar hits, then another round hits, and somebody starts yellin', you know, 'Mortars,'" Jacobson remembers.
The soldiers say the mortars were being fired by a handful of enemy fighters at the top of the ridge. Jacobson says his group had no idea that the other group from their unit, including Tillman, had taken up positions on a steep hill nearby in order to protect the men below. As the second convoy raced through the canyon, soldiers in the lead vehicle began firing at the hill, unaware they were shooting at their own men, including Tillman, Baer and Jade Lane.
"And all of a sudden, the vehicle starts coming around the canyon. And then they opened up again, and that's when I realized that that's where all the fire was coming from, was from the vehicle. It wasn't coming from the enemy anymore," Lane remembers.
Pat Tillman, who had crested the hill with another young soldier, took cover behind a rock. He threw out a smoke grenade as a signal. But Russell Baer says after a brief lull, the gunfire only intensified. "I considered, you know, shooting our own guys. And I had actually pointed my weapon in their direction, and you know, turned my safety director on fire. And I was ready to engage them. You just hope for the best. I mean, you're left with nothing. You can't do anything, except sit there," Baer explains.
"And scream cease fire?" Couric asks.
"Scream and do what you've been taught, you know. Give the cease fire signal," he says.
Lane and another Ranger were wounded; Tillman and an Afghan soldier fighting beside him, which may have caused some confusion, were killed. Based on the soldiers accounts, Mary Tillman believes she's pieced together her son's final moments.
"In the end, we feel he was hit in the chest. And it, you know, he had on his body armor, but, you know, it's very powerful when you're hit like that. And it stunned him and he went down. And then they shot him in the head three times," she says.
"He was screaming for them to stop," Couric remarks.
"Yeah. And he was screaming, 'Cease fire.' He was screaming his name. You know, 'I'm Pat Tillman.' Like, 'What's wrong with you?'" Mary Tillman explains.
"And what about for you, the notion that, his own brothers were firing on him?" Couric asks.
"Well, it's hard to take," Tillman says. "When we heard it was a friendly fire, I felt terrible for these soldiers. We didn't go into immediate, you know, 'Oh, these awful men, they need to be punished.' I felt terrible for these young men. And I still do, to a degree. But I don't think it was the horrible accident that they like to play this out. I think there was huge negligence involved here."
The soldiers 60 Minutes spoke to-none of whom were implicated in Tillman's death-say that most everyone in his unit suspected within a few days that he had been killed by friendly fire.
"We all knew. I just don't understand why nobody, you know, told Pat's parents, or told, you know, his brother right away," Donald Lee tells Couric. "They took the honor away from, you know, what we were doing by lying to his family."
"Did it seem like Pat's death was being treated differently than any other soldier's death because of his high profile?" Couric asks.
"Absolutely," one of the soldiers replies.