Kyle in January 2012
|Birth name||Christopher Scott Kyle|
|Nickname(s)||"The Legend", "Devil of Ramadi"|
April 8, 1974|
Odessa, Texas, U.S.
|Died||February 2, 2013
Erath County, Texas, U.S.
|Buried at||Texas State Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1999–2009|
|Rank||Chief petty officer|
|Awards|| Silver Star Medal (2)
Bronze Star Medal (Valor; 5)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (1)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)
|Spouse(s)||Taya Kyle (m. 2002; his death 2013)|
|Relations||Wayne Kenneth Kyle (father)
Deby Lynn Mercer (mother)
|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 over 160 kills officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. 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 and numerous other unit and personal awards.
Kyle was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2009 and published his bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, in 2012. An eponymous film adaptation of Kyle's book, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released two years later.
On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot dead at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas. His friend, Chad Littlefield, age 35, was also killed. The former Marine accused of killing Kyle, Eddie Ray Routh, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
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 deacon. Kyle's father bought his son his first rifle at 8 years old, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun, with which they hunted deer, pheasant, and quail. Kyle attended high school in Midlothian, Texas, and after graduating, became a professional bronco rodeo rider and ranch hand, but his professional rodeo career ended abruptly when he severely injured his arm.
After his arm healed, Kyle went to a military recruiting office, interested in joining the U.S. Marine Corps special operations. A U.S. Navy recruiter convinced him to try, instead, 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.
Assigned to SEAL Team 3, sniper element, platoon "Charlie" (later "Cadillac"), within the Naval Special Warfare Command, and with four tours of duty, Kyle served in many major battles of the Iraq War. 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. CNN reported that the woman was cradling a toddler in her other hand. As ordered, Kyle opened fire, killing the woman before she could attack. He later stated, "the woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her. It was clear that not only did she want to kill them, but she didn’t care about anybody else nearby who would have been blown up by the grenade or killed in the firefight. Children on the street, people in the houses, maybe her child."
Because of his track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named Kyle 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.
In his book, American Sniper, Kyle describes his longest successful shot: 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 straight-up luck shot" from his McMillan Tac-338 sniper rifle from about 2,100 yards (1,920 m) away.
Kyle 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. During four tours of duty in the Iraq War, he was shot twice and survived six separate IED detonations.
Number of kills as a sniper
While the Pentagon, Navy, and SOC have not challenged the claim that Kyle was the current top sniper, the exact number of sniper kills is obscure. To be counted as confirmed, "They basically had to see the person fall and be clearly dead", according to Jim DeFelice, one of the coauthors of Kyle's autobiography. Kyle's shooter’s statements, filled out by every sniper after a mission, were reported to higher command, who kept them in case some kill was contested as outside the Rules of Engagement. However, Wayne V. Hall, a spokesman for the Army, stated: "the U.S. Army does not keep any record, official or otherwise, of [the number of] confirmed kills", and the U.S. Special Operations Commands spokesman Ken McGraw says SOC treats a sniper's tally as "unofficial": "If anything, we shy away from reporting numbers like that. It’s so difficult to prove." The publisher HarperCollins states: "The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyle's kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book." In his autobiography, Kyle wrote
The Navy credits me with more kills as a sniper than any other American service member, past or present. I guess that's true. They go back and forth on what the number is. One week, it's 160 (the "official" number as of this writing, for what that's worth), then it's way higher, then it's somewhere in between. If you want a number, ask the Navy—you may even get the truth if you catch them on the right day.
As a sniper, Kyle was often asked about his weapons. While in training, he used four different rifles in order to know which weapon was the most useful in the given situation. In the field, he used the following:
- a semi-automatic 7.62 NATO Mk 11 sniper rifle (patrol)
- a 5.56 NATO Mk 12 Designated Marksman Rifle modified with the lower receiver off a M-4 to get a collapsible stock and allow full auto (for urban patrol)
- a .300 Winchester Magnum M24 sniper rifle with MacMillan stocks and customized barrels, later replaced with a .300 Winchester Magnum Accuracy International. These two rifles were the ones he mostly used while in overwatch.[clarification needed]
Kyle left the U.S. Navy in 2009 and moved to Midlothian, Texas, with his wife, Taya, and two children. He was president of Craft International, a tactical training company for the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.
In 2012, HarperCollins released Kyle's autobiography, American Sniper. Kyle had initially hesitated to write the book but was persuaded to move forward because other books about SEALs were underway. 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." In the book and ensuing interviews, Kyle stated he had no regrets about his work as a sharpshooter, saying, "I had to do it to protect the Marines."
American Sniper had a 37-week run on The New York Times bestseller list and brought Kyle national attention. Following its release, media articles challenged some of Kyle's anecdotes, 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.
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. 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.
In Kyle's book American Sniper, Kyle wrote a subchapter titled “Punching Out Scruff Face” about an alleged altercation in a bar. In the book he claims he punched a man he refers to as "Scruff" who told Kyle, "You deserve to lose a few." According to Kyle, the encounter took place at McP’s, a bar in Coronado, California, on October 12, 2006, during a wake for Kyle’s comrade, Michael A. Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient who had been killed in Iraq.
On January 4, 2012, Kyle appeared on the Opie and Anthony Show to discuss his book. On the show Kyle alleged that the character "Scruff" in his book is former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura.
Following these allegations, Ventura denied the incident had happened, and filed a lawsuit in January 2012 against Kyle for charges of defamation, appropriation, and unjust enrichment. After Kyle was killed the following year, Ventura continued the lawsuit against Kyle's estate.
On July 29, 2014, the jury returned a divided verdict of 8 to 2 that Kyle was guilty of defamation and unjust enrichment, and not guilty of appropriation. The Jury concluded that the Kyle Estate owed Ventura $500,000 for defamation, and $1.34 million for unjust enrichment.
Kyle's widow appealed the verdict on behalf of Kyle's estate. Attorneys for Kyle's estate asked the appeals court to throw out the verdict or at least order a new trial, because a lawyer for Ventura allegedly told jurors that the $1.8 million judgment would be paid for by the Kyle's book publisher's insurance policy, not his estate. Ventura was reported as saying that if he loses on appeal, he will move to Mexico.
On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, age 35, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. 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.
Routh was a 25-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Lancaster, Texas. 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. His family also said he suffered from PTSD from his time in the military. On the way to the shooting range, Kyle texted Littlefield, "This dude is straight up nuts." Littlefield responded, "Watch my six", military slang meaning "watch my back". Four months later, while he was in his jail cell, Routh shared a reason with the Former Erath County Sheriff’s Deputy Gene Cole: "I was just riding in the back seat of the truck, and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range, so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn’t talk to me. I’m sure they’ve forgiven me."
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 ... psychotic." 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.
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). Hundreds of people lined Interstate 35 to view the procession and pay their final respects to Kyle.
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. His trial was set to begin May 5, 2014 but was delayed to allow more time to comply with DNA testing requirements. The trial began on February 11, 2015.
On February 24, 2015, Routh was found guilty of killing Kyle and Littlefield. The jury returned the verdict after less than three hours of deliberations. Since prosecutors decided beforehand to not seek the death penalty, the trial judge, Jason Cashon, immediately sentenced Routh to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
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.
Clint Eastwood's film American Sniper (2014) is based on Kyle's autobiography. Kyle is portrayed by Bradley Cooper, and his wife Taya Kyle is portrayed by Sienna Miller. 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. The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.
Legal issues between Craft International and Kyle's estate
On May 30, 2014, Craft International, LLC which Chris Kyle co-founded and owned an 85% share of, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in Dallas, Texas. (Their earlier Chapter 11 case, filed on February 24 that year, was dismissed on May 30 because of a paperwork mixup.)
In July 2014, Craft International, LLC "threatened to sue Taya Kyle unless she forked over some of the royalties made from 'American Sniper.' The company said Kyle had written his books and done his book tours on company time." Moreover, Steven Young, Craft International's chief executive, questioned the widow's right to her husband’s stake in the firm; he alleged Kyle had intentionally limited the power of spouses, citing “his belief that divorce [from Taya] was a very real possibility". In response, Mrs. Kyle counter-sued Craft "on the grounds that it was wrongfully using her husband’s name and likeness to sell its goods", and that she and her children "have the right to control the use of Chris Kyle’s name, likeness and image" after his death. Additionally, Mrs. Kyle’s lawyers accused Young of mishandling Craft International’s money.
In February 2015, Craft International, LLC requested clearance to implement a settlement with Kyle's widow, as well as the dismissal of its bankruptcy case. The proposed deal would resolve any pending disputes between the parties and includes an agreement to request case dismissal, for which Craft filed a motion on January 15, 2015.
Awards and decorations
- List of snipers
- Longest recorded sniper kills
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Simo Häyhä, the record-holding sniper for any major war with 505 confirmed kills
- 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
- 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
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- Chris Kyle (March 24, 2010). "Chris Kyle from HarperCollins Publishers". Harpercollins.com. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
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- "Coming home was the real struggle". Retrieved July 22, 2015.
- "American Sniper" (PDF). Harper Collins.
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- "The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL". Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Special Operations Forces Profile: Chris Kyle". Military.com. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "'Chris Kyle, America's deadliest sniper, offered no regrets'". February 5, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
- Sanchez, Raf (January 2, 2012). "'The Devil of Ramadi' named America's deadliest sniper". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved January 2, 2012.
- 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.
- Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Chris (February 5, 2012). American Sniper. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-208235-3.
- "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.
- "Chris Kyle: al-Shaitan of Iraq". March 14, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- Kyle, Chris; McEwen, Scott; DeFelice, Chris (January 2, 2012). "American Sniper". Harper Collins. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
- "Craft International". Retrieved August 10, 2012.
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- LaMothe, Dan (July 30, 2014). "Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle: A case where no one won". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
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- "Fitco Cares". Fitcocares.org. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- "Stars Earn Stripes Bio for Chris Kyle". Nbc.com. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- Kyle, Chris (2012). American Sniper. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0062082350.
- The Opie & Anthony Show. Sirius XM. 4 Jan. 2012. Satellite Radio.
- Mike Opelka. "Why Did the ‘Deadliest’ SEAL Sniper Punch Jesse Ventura in The Face?". The Blaze.
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- Chasmar, Jessica (June 2, 2013). "Ex-Minn. Gov. Jesse Ventura sues Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's widow". The Washington Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- Jesse Ventura v. Chris Kyle (District of Minnesota United States District Court August 7, 2014). Text
- "Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8 million in 'American Sniper' lawsuit". The Dallas Morning News. July 29, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
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- "Noted sniper slain at Erath County gun range". Fox4News. February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Collins, 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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
- "[offender.tdcj.texas.gov/OffenderSearch/offenderDetail.action?sid=08977806 Routh, Eddie Ray]" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- 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.
- Lilley, Kevin (2013-03-17). "Chris Kyle statue created for SEAL's widow". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
- 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.
- VERRIER, RICHARD (April 23, 2014). "Eastwood starts shooting 'American Sniper' at Santa Clarita ranch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- Patrick Hipes. "Oscar Nominations 2015: Full List Of 87th Academy Award Nominees - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Chumley, Cheryl K. (February 23, 2015). "‘American Sniper’ wins Academy Award — for sound editing". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
- 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.
- Associated Press (January 30, 2015) - "Greg Abbott Declares Feb. 2 'Chris Kyle Day'". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
- 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.
- Butler, Kelsey Butler (January 29, 2015). "'American Sniper' company requests case dismissal". The Deal.
- McCoy, Terrence (July 30, 2014). "The tragedy of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle’s widow". The Washington Post.
- Stech, Katy (September 15, 2014). "American Sniper’s Widow Sues Bankrupt Training Company He Founded". The Wall Street Journal.
- Mooney, Michael J., The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL (e-book, 70 pp.), Little, Brown and Company (an imprint of Hachette), April 23, 2013
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Kyle.|
- American Sniper at Harper Collins
- American Sniper at the Internet Movie Database
- Kyle on The George Jarkesy Show
- Chris Kyle Story in The New Yorker
- French, David, We Need More 'Extremists' Like Chris Kyle, May 31, 2013, National Review
- Mooney, Michael J., The Legend of Chris Kyle D Magazine, April 2013
- Audio interview with Chris Kyle by Matthew Bannister, for the BBC World Service's Outlook programme, broadcast January 5, 2012
- Craft International, tactical training company Kyle founded to serve the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.
- Discussion on C-SPAN with Kyle on American Sniper, April 7, 2012
- Chris Kyle at Find a Grave