So much for,”There are no atheists in foxholes.” or,”there are no atheists on a sinking ship.”
A number of prominent individuals have been both atheists and combat veterans. During the coverage of his death and subsequent cryonic suspension, Baseball Hall of Famer and combat fighter pilot Ted Williams was reported to be an atheist by his former teammate Johnny Pesky. Richard Tillman, in giving the eulogy for his brother, former NFL player and soldier Pat Tillman, stated that Tillman “wasn’t religious.” In his 1988 book “Intellectuals,” Paul Johnson states that writer and WWI veteran Ernest Hemingway “not only did not believe in God but regarded organized religion as a menace to human happiness.” Philip Paulson, plaintiff in several of the lawsuits in the Mount Soledad cross controversy, was an atheist Vietnam combat veteran.
Joe Simpson, author of the book Touching The Void, explicitly addresses the issue in the film adaptation. Referring to the moment he lay at the bottom of a deep crevasse, dehydrated, alone and with a broken leg, he states: ‘”I was totally convinced I was on my own, that no one was coming to get me. I was brought up as a devout Catholic. I’d long since stopped believing in God. I always wondered if things really hit the fan, whether I would, under pressure, turn round and say a few Hail Marys and say ‘Get me out of here’. It never once occurred to me. It meant that I really don’t believe and I really do think that when you die, you die, that’s it, there’s no afterlife.”