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Chris Kyle

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Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle January 2012.jpg
Kyle in January 2012
Birth name Christopher Scott Kyle[1]
Nickname(s) "Chris", "Legend", "Devil of Ramadi"
Born (1974-04-08)April 8, 1974
Odessa, Texas, U.S.
Died February 2, 2013(2013-02-02) (aged 38)
Erath County, Texas, U.S.
Buried at Texas State Cemetery[2]
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1999–2009
Rank CPO collar.png Chief Petty Officer[3]

US Navy SEALs insignia.png United States Navy SEALs

Sniper element, platoon "Charlie", SEAL Team 3
Battles/wars Iraq War
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star Medal (2)
BronzeStarV copy.jpg Bronze Star Medal (Valor; 5)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (1)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)[3][4]
Spouse(s) Taya Kyle[5]
Relations Wayne Kenneth Kyle (father)
Deby Lynn Mercer (mother)
Children: 2[6]
Other work American Sniper (2012)
American Gun (2013)

Christopher Scott "Chris" Kyle (April 8, 1974 − February 2, 2013) was a United States Navy SEAL and the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills. Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals[7] and numerous other unit and personal awards.[8]

Kyle was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2009 and wrote a bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, which was published in January 2012. A film adaptation of Kyle's autobiography, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released in December 2014. On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas, with his friend, Chad Littlefield. The man accused of killing them, Eddie Ray Routh, was found guilty of both murders and later sentenced to life in prison without parole.[9]

Early life

Kyle was born in Odessa, Texas, the first of two boys born to Deby Lynn (née Mercer) and Wayne Kenneth Kyle, a Sunday school teacher and a deacon.[3][10] Kyle's father bought his son his first rifle at eight years old, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun, with which they hunted pheasant, quail, and deer.[3] Kyle attended high school in Midlothian, Texas.[11] After school, Kyle became a professional bronco rodeo rider and worked on a ranch, but his professional rodeo career ended abruptly when he severely injured his arm.[12]

Military career

After his arm healed, Kyle went to a military recruiting office, interested in joining the U.S. Marine Corps with a special interest in special operations. A U.S. Navy recruiter convinced him to try for the SEALS. Initially, Kyle was rejected because of the pins in his arm, but he eventually received an invitation to the 24-week Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school (BUDS), which he joined in 1999.[12]

Assigned to SEAL Team 3, sniper element, platoon "Charlie" (later "Cadillac"),[7] within the Naval Special Warfare Command, and with four tours of duty, Kyle served in many major battles of the Iraq War.[3] His first long-range kill shot was taken during the initial invasion when he shot a woman approaching a group of Marines while carrying a hand grenade. An article by CNN reported that the woman was cradling a toddler in her other hand.[13] As ordered, he opened fire, killing the woman before she could attack.[14] He later stated, "the woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her."[7] Because of his track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named him Shaitan Ar-Ramadi (English: 'The Devil of Ramadi'), and put a $21,000 bounty on his head that was later increased to $80,000. They posted signs highlighting the cross on his arm as a means of identifying him.[3][14] In 2008, outside Sadr City, he killed an insurgent about to fire a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) at a U.S. Army convoy with a single shot from his McMillan Tac-338 sniper rifle from about 2,100 yards (1,920 m) away.[7] This is his longest successful shot.

During four tours of duty in the Iraq War, Kyle was shot twice and survived six separate IED explosions.[14] He accumulated 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills. These numbers are based on individual shooter logs, filled out at the end of a mission, and reported to higher command. Kyle stated that he did not know his official kill record, and only counted the lives he felt he could have saved. U.S. Special Operations Command treats sniper kill counts as "unofficial". Confirmed kills must have a witness.[3][15][16] His other weapons included the Mk 11 7.62×51mm NATO semi-automatic sniper rifle, the Mk 12 5.56×45mm NATO Designated Marksman Rifle, the SIG Sauer P220 pistol, an M4 carbine and a .300 Winchester Magnum-chambered sniper rifle.[17] He became known by the moniker "Legend" among the general infantry and Marines whom he was tasked to protect. This title initially originated in jest among fellow SEALs following his taking of a sabbatical to train other snipers in Fallujah.[18]

Post-military life

Taya Kyle in August 2013

Kyle left the U.S. Navy in 2009 and moved to Midlothian, Texas, with his wife, Taya, and two children.[19] He was president of Craft International, a tactical training company for the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.[20]

In 2012, HarperCollins released Kyle's autobiographical book American Sniper.[21] Kyle had initially hesitated to write the book but was persuaded to move forward because other books about SEALs were underway.[22] In his book, Kyle wrote bluntly of his experiences. Of the battle for control of Ramadi he says "Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table. That is how the world works."[23] In the book and in interviews following, Kyle stated he had no regrets about his work as a sharpshooter, saying, "I had to do it to protect the Marines."[24] American Sniper had a 37-week run on The New York Times bestseller list and brought Kyle national attention.[25] Following its release, media articles challenged some of Kyle's anecdotes,[26] but the core of his narrative was widely accepted. "Tales of his heroism on the battlefield were already lore in every branch of the armed forces," writes Michael J. Mooney, author of a biography of Kyle.[27]

Kyle paired with FITCO Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization which created the Heroes Project to provide free in-home fitness equipment, individualized programs, personal training, and life-coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families, or those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.[28] On August 13, 2012, Kyle appeared on the reality television show Stars Earn Stripes, which features celebrities pairing up with a special operations or law enforcement professional who train them in weapons and combat tactics. Kyle was teamed with actor Dean Cain.[29]

In interviews on The Opie and Anthony Show in January 2012, Kyle claimed to have punched former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura at a bar in Coronado, California, in 2006 during a wake for Mike Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient killed in Iraq.[30] The story parallels an incident in his book which does not mention Ventura by name, and claims a character named "Scruff Face" said that the SEALs "deserved to lose a few guys."[31] Kyle, in radio and television interviews following the book’s publication, admitted that “Scruff Face” was Ventura.[32] Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle for defamation in January 2012.[33][34] After Kyle was killed the following year, Ventura continued the lawsuit against Kyle's estate.[35] The court found that the Kyle estate was unjustly enriched and awarded Ventura $1.8 million in damages.[36][37] Kyle's widow is appealing the verdict on behalf of Kyle's estate.[38]


On February 2, 2013, Kyle and a companion, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas.[39] Both men were armed with .45-caliber 1911-style pistols when they were killed, but neither gun had been unholstered or fired. The safety catches were still on. Kyle was killed with a .45-caliber pistol, while Littlefield was shot with a 9mm SIG Sauer handgun. Both guns belonged to Kyle.[40]

The shooter was Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Lancaster, Texas.[41] Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken Routh to the gun range in an effort to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Routh had been in and out of mental hospitals for at least two years and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.[42] His family also said he suffered from PTSD from his time in the military.[43][44] After the killings, Routh went to his sister's house in Midlothian and told her what he had done. His sister, Laura Blevins, called 9-1-1 and told the emergency operator: "They went out to a shooting range... Like, he's all crazy. He's fucking psychotic."[42][45] Local police captured Routh after a short freeway chase, which ended when Routh, who fled the scene in Kyle's Ford F-350 truck, crashed into a police cruiser in Lancaster.[46]

A memorial service was held for Kyle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on February 11, 2013. Kyle was buried on February 12, 2013, at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, after a funeral procession from Midlothian to Austin, stretching more than 200 miles (320 km).[47] Hundreds of people lined Interstate 35 to view the procession and pay their final respects to Kyle.[48][49]

Routh was arraigned February 2, 2013, on two counts of capital murder and was taken to the Erath County Jail for holding under a $3 million bond.[50] His trial was set to begin May 5, 2014, but was delayed to allow more time to comply with DNA testing requirements.[51] The trial began on February 11, 2015.[52]

On February 24, 2015, Routh was found guilty of the deaths of Kyle and Littlefield with the jury returning the verdict in under three hours of deliberations. The trial judge, Jason Cashon, immediately sentenced Routh to life in prison with no possibility of parole.[53][54]


The signing of the "Chris Kyle Bill" at the Texas State Capitol in August 2013

In August 2013, Texas governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 162, also known as the "Chris Kyle Bill", to recognize military training in the issuance of occupational licenses. The bill had been co-sponsored by Republican Representative Dan Flynn of Van and Democratic Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio. The ceremony was attended by Kyle's widow Taya.[55]

Sculptor Greg Marra created a memorial statue of Kyle for presentation to his widow. Fundraising for production of the statue has been provided by members of the Tea Party movement.[56][57]

Clint Eastwood's 2014 film American Sniper is based on Kyle's autobiography. Kyle is portrayed by Bradley Cooper and his wife Taya Kyle is portrayed by Sienna Miller.[58] For his portrayal of Kyle, Cooper received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and the film was nominated in five other categories, including Best Picture.[59] The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.[60]

On February 2, 2015, exactly two years after Kyle was killed, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the day to be "Chris Kyle Day" in his honor.[61][62][63]

Awards and decorations

US Navy SEALs insignia.png
Gold star
Combat Distinguishing Device.png Award star (gold).pngAward star (gold).pngAward star (gold).pngAward star (gold).png Combat Distinguishing Device.png
Combat Distinguishing Device.png Award star (gold).png
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png
Badge SEAL Insignia
1st Row Silver Star (2) Bronze Star Medal (5) w/ Combat V Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ Combat V
2nd Row Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2) w/ Combat V Combat Action Ribbon (2) Navy Presidential Unit Citation
3rd Row Joint Meritorious Unit Award Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star
4th Row Navy Good Conduct Medal w/ 2 service stars National Defense Service Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 service star
5th Row Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 4 campaign stars Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
6th Row Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 3 service stars Rifle Marksmanship Medal Pistol Marksmanship Medal
Badge Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia

See also


  • Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Jim (2013). American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. New York: W. Morrow, 2012. ISBN 0-062-08235-3 OCLC 733224029
  • Kyle, Chris; Doyle, William (2013). American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms. New York: William Morrow, 2013. ISBN 0-0622-4271-7 OCLC 813286737


  1. ^ Bernstein, Adam (February 4, 2013). "Chris Kyle, Navy Seal and author of 'American Sniper', dies". The Washington Post. Christopher Scott Kyle was born in 1974 
  2. ^ Jamie Stengle; Paul J. Weber; Angela K. Brown (February 12, 2013). "Procession escorts ex-Navy SEAL Kyle to burial". Army Times. Associated Press. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Buiso, Gray (January 1, 2012). "Meet the big shot - SEAL is America's deadliest sniper". New York Post. Retrieved January 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ Chris Kyle (March 24, 2010). "Chris Kyle from HarperCollins Publishers". Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Taya Renae Kyle profile". Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ "'American Sniper' Widow Recalls Heartbreaking Moment Kids Learned Navy SEAL Dad Chris Kyle Had Been Killed". Christian Post. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d "American Sniper". Harper Collins. 
  8. ^ "Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Grateful Nation Award". "Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Kyle". 
  9. ^ Madeline Boardman (February 25, 2015). "Eddie Ray Routh Found Guilty of Murder in Shooting Death of American Sniper's Chris Kyle". US Weekly. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Christopher Scott Kyle, Texas, Birth Index, 1903-1997". FamilySearch. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL". Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Special Operations Forces Profile: Chris Kyle". Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  13. ^ "'Chris Kyle, America's deadliest sniper, offered no regrets'". February 5, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c Sanchez, Raf (January 2, 2012). "'The Devil of Ramadi' named America's deadliest sniper". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved January 2, 2012. 
  15. ^ Briggs, Bill (July 30, 2014). "Confirmed kills: A solemn secret for military snipers is becoming a pop-culture hit". NBC News. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  16. ^ "About The Book". American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. HarperCollins. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Chris Kyle: al-Shaitan of Iraq". March 14, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Chris Kyle1". YouTube. 
  19. ^ Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Chris (January 2, 2012). "American Sniper". Harper Collins. Retrieved January 2, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Craft International". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  21. ^ Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Chris (February 5, 2012). American Sniper. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-208235-3. 
  22. ^ Fernandez and Michael Schwirtz, Manny (February 3, 2013). "Untouchable in Iraq, Ex-Sniper Dies in a Shooting Back Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Perry, Scott (March 5, 2012). "Book review: 'American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History' by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Botelho, Greg, Joe Johns and Ted Metzger (February 5, 2013). "Police: Man accused of killing ex-SEAL said he had PTSD, was hurting". CNN ( Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Pulliam Bailey, Sarah (January 14, 2014). "Here's the faith in the 'American Sniper' you won't see in the film". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  26. ^ LaMothe, Dan (July 30, 2014). "Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle: A case where no one won". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  27. ^ Hoinski, Michael (December 22, 2014). "The Controversial True Story Behind 'American Sniper'". Mens Journal Magazine. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "Fitco Cares". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Stars Earn Stripes Bio for Chris Kyle". Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  30. ^ Why Did the ‘Deadliest’ SEAL Sniper Punch Jesse Ventura in The Face?
  31. ^ Lamothe, Dan (July 30, 2014). "Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle: A case where no one won". The Washington Post (Katharine Weymouth). Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  32. ^ Stern, Mark Joseph. "American Liar 38.3k 251 1.5k Why Jesse Ventura is likely to collect millions from Chris Kyle’s American Sniper.". The Slate Group LLC. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  33. ^ Browning, Dan (February 24, 2012). "Jesse Ventura aims to get even with Navy SEAL in court". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  34. ^ "The Ventura Verdict". The New Yorker. July 30, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  35. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (June 2, 2013). "Ex-Minn. Gov. Jesse Ventura sues Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's widow". The Washington Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8 million in 'American Sniper' lawsuit". The Dallas Morning News. July 29, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Chris Kyle trial: Jesse Ventura wins $1.8 million in defamation case". The Oregonian. Associated Press. July 29, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  38. ^ "'American Sniper' widow to appeal Ventura defamation verdict". December 23, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Noted sniper slain at Erath County gun range". Fox4News. February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  40. ^ Lamothe, Dan (February 13, 2015). "The fatal intersection of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and the Marine veteran who killed him". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  41. ^ Laura (February 2, 2013). "Father of Chris Kyle killer Eddie Ray Routh is already mourning the loss of his son". Daily Mail. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  42. ^ a b Lamothe, Dan (February 13, 2015). "The fatal intersection of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and the Marine veteran who killed him". Washington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  43. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (February 3, 2013). "'American Sniper' Author Shot to Death in Texas". The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Man charged in fatal shooting of ex-SEAL/author". Yahoo News. February 3, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  45. ^ Laura Beil (November 5, 2013). The Enemy Within: The Inside Story of Eddie Routh, the Man Accused of Killing Legendary "American Sniper" Chris Kyle. Rodale. 
  46. ^ "Author of 'American Sniper' among the dead at Rough Creek". February 2, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Chris Kyle Funeral Procession Arrives in Austin. NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth". February 12, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Details announced for Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's memorial service at Cowboys Stadium". The Scoop Blog. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  49. ^ "Residents Line I-35 To Pay Respects To Slain Navy SEAL". February 12, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  50. ^ Copeland, Larry (February 3, 2013). "Ex-SEAL Chris Kyle remembered after shooting death". USA Today. 
  51. ^ "Chris Kyle Murder Trial Delayed". Local News. May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  52. ^ Jervis, Rick (February 12, 2015). "At 'American Sniper' murder trial, a psychosis defense". USA TODAY. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  53. ^ Kalthoff, Ken; Mone, John L. (February 25, 2015). "Jury Returns Guilty Verdict in 'American Sniper' Trial". NBCUniversal Media. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  54. ^ Ed Payne, Dana Ford and Jason Morris (February 24, 2015). "Jury finds Eddie Ray Routh guilty in 'American Sniper' case". CNN. Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  55. ^ Fountain, Phil (2013-08-28). "Perry signs 'Chris Kyle Bill,' allows military experience for Texas state licenses". Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  56. ^ Lilley, Kevin (2013-03-17). "Chris Kyle statue created for SEAL's widow". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  57. ^ Harper, Jennifer (2013-11-10). "Tea party to honor fallen SEALs Chris Kyle, those at Benghazi with sculptures". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  58. ^ VERRIER, RICHARD (April 23, 2014). "Eastwood starts shooting 'American Sniper' at Santa Clarita ranch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  59. ^ Patrick Hipes. "Oscar Nominations 2015: Full List Of 87th Academy Award Nominees - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  60. ^ Chumley, Cheryl K. (February 23, 2015). "‘American Sniper’ wins Academy Award — for sound editing". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  61. ^ Holley, Peter (February 2, 2015) - "Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Declares 'Chris Kyle Day' As 'American Sniper' Continues to Surge". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  62. ^ Associated Press (January 30, 2015) - "Greg Abbott Declares Feb. 2 'Chris Kyle Day'". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  63. ^ Howell, Kellan (January 30, 2015) - "Gov. Abbott Declares 'Chris Kyle Day' in Texas: 'We Honor Our Military Heroes'". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 7, 2015.

Further reading

External links