Chris Kyle: The true story of the American sniper

Tragic Death of Chris Kyle
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a recipient of a secret Silver Star. Death of Chris Kyle was one of the most tragic events in the SOF veteran community (Photo: Wiki)

Chris Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper and most lethal sniper in American history who became famous after publishing his bestselling autobiography ‘American Sniper’ in 2012. He spent 10 years as a SEAL until his honorably discharge in 2009. During his time as a SEAL, he was shot twice and survived 6 IED explosions. Chris Kyle died as a victim of homicide at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas in 2013.

Early life

Chris Kyle was born on April 8, 1974, in Odessa, a small town in Texas as a Christopher Scott Kyle. He was the eldest of two boys born to Deby Lynn and Wayne Kenneth Kyle. His first encounter with guns was when he was 8 years old. His dad bought his first rifle, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun. They enjoyed hunting deer, pheasants, and quail.

Chris Kyle was a husband and father
Chris Kyle was a husband and father (Photo: XY)

He attended high school in Midlothian, Texas. Kyle graduated in 1992 and shortly after that, he became a pro bronco rider and ranch hand. His professional career ended when he severely injured his arm. After that part of his life, Kyle attended Tarleton State University from 1992 to 1994. He studied Ranch and Range Management.

Military Service

His path to the BUD/s wasn’t easy. He went to the military recruiting office with an idea to join the U.S. Marine Corps but a U.S. Navy recruited convinced him to try, instead, for the Navy SEALs. At his first assessment, he was rejected because of the pins in his arm, but he eventually received an invitation to the BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) training). Kyle was sent to the 24-week training at Coronado, California in 1999.

Chris Kyle graduated with BUD/s Class 233 in March 2001. Shortly after graduation, he was assigned to Seal Team 3. He served as sniper element, Platoon “Charlie” (later “Cadillac”), within the Naval Special Warfare Command.

During his military service, he served four tours in Iraq. Chris Kyle was shot twice and surviving 6 IED explosions. He also earned dozens of awards and decorations for his service including one Silver Star and four Bronze Stars for his tours of combat in Iraq.

The most lethal sniper in US military history

The whole military career Chris spent as a sniper. In Iraq, he learned how not to hesitate, but to shoot straight. The first kill ever he had in Iraq, in the case when he shot a woman who was about to attack a group of American marines with a hand grenade. Chris Kyle was laying at the top of a building in a town in Iraq if the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The marines couldn’t see the threat the woman was posing.

His commanding officer told him to shoot, but his hesitation was stronger than him. He pulled the trigger only on the second command. He shot his first target and eliminated the threat. The woman dropped the grenade when she was shot. Kyle shot her again when the grenade went off.

Chris Kyle Navy Seal Sniper dubbed as Devil of Ramadi, the Legend and the Myth
Chris Kyle became the most lethal sniper in US military history over four tours in Iraq as a Navy SEAL (Photo: XY)

His kill unofficial kill count was 266 kills, out of which 166 were officially confirmed by Pentagon. With this score, Chris Kyle has become the most lethal sniper the history of the US military had ever seen. He was part of the Task Force Bruiser, led by the Jocko Willink, another famous SEAL operator.

The previous American record was about 109 confirmed kills. To be counted as confirmed kill, the shooter and his pointer “need to see the person fall and be clearly dead” which is why US Marine Sniper Carlos Hathcock estimated that he had killed between 300 and 400 enemy personnel during his time in Vietnam but had only 93 confirmed kills of North Vietnam Army and Viet Cong.

Weaponry

Chris Kyle used standard-issue Sig Sauer P226 as his favorite sidearm while he had several sniper rifles he usually used depends on the occasion.

  1. Navy Mk-12 Special Purpose Rifle
  2. Mk-11 Mod X Special Purpose Rifle (SR-25)
  3. M-24 Sniper Weapon System
  4. M82A1 (M107)
  5. .338 Lapua stocks from MacMillan and Accuracy International

Devil of Ramadi and the Myth

Chris Kyle’s deadly reputation got him the nickname Al-Shaitan Ramadi – the Devil of Ramadi – during his mission in Ramadi and a bounty of $20,000 was put on his head. However, this same reputation got him a different nickname among his fellow soldiers, including Marines whom he had the task of protecting – The Legend.

The nickname originated among Kyle’s fellow SEALs following his taking of a sabbatical to train other snipers in Fallujah, and he was sometimes called “The Myth”.

Post-military life

After ten years of service, Kyle was retired. He poured his incredible story into a book called ‘American Sniper’.

‘’It was my duty to eliminate the target and I never had any regrets about pulling the trigger. My only regret is the people who I couldn’t save, marines, soldiers, friends… I am not naïve and I’m not trying to romanticize war, but I am ready to meet God with a clear conscious’’ Chris Kyle concluded.

In 2009, he decided he won’t be going back to Navy, because, as it was reported, he wanted to save his marriage. He started his own military company, Craft International. It provides military and law enforcement sniper training, as well as private security and protection.

Retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle killed in Texas
Chris Kyle, a retired Navy SEAL and bestselling author of the book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History”, holds a .308 sniper rifle in this April 6, 2012, file photo. Kyle was one of two people reported killed on the gun range at Rough Creek Lodge near Glen Rose, Texas, Saturday, February 2 2013. (Photo: Paul Moseley)

The best-selling book of his exploits as an elite sniper in Iraq was turned into a successful movie “American Sniper” starring Bradley Cooper in 2014.

Besides all his assignments, he loved to help veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental issues recover and readjust to civilian life.

Fatal Drive: The death of Chris Kyle

The tragic death of Chris Kyle shocked America. A famous Navy SEAL sniper was the victim of a homicide on February 2, 2013. He was killed alongside his friend Chad Littlefield at the shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge. The killer was later identified as Eddie Ray Routh.

The Fatal Drive

On the early morning of  February 2, 2013, Chris Kyle went to pick Eddie Ray Routh in his black F-350 at a house in Lancaster, Texas. Right outside of Dallas. He agreed to spend the day with Eddie Routh as a favor to Routh’s mother. She worked at Kyle’s kids’ school and thought spending some time with the Navy SEAL might help to improve her son’s spirits.

Plea for help

One day when he came to pick up his children from school, she approached Kyle and asked him for his help. She knew that he had been spending a good deal of time helping other veterans with disabilities and she told him of her son Eddie’s troubles. Chris Kyle listened intently, then agreed to reach out to the troubled ex-Marine.

The most deadliest sniper in American military history - Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle (right) posing with his friend (Photo: XY)

From that small house in Lancaster, Chris Kyle, Eddie Routh and Kyle’s good friend Chad Littlefield took an hour and forty-five-minute drive to Rough Creek Lodge, an 11,000-acre upscale resort.

Shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge

Kyle had helped to design a shooting range in a remote corner of Rough Creek and was welcome to use the facility or stay in the Lodge with his family at any time free of charge.

During the drive to the shooting range, Kyle and Littlefield have been getting bad vibes from Routh as well. Even though they were sitting next to each other in the truck Kyle texted Littlefield, “This dude is straight-up nuts”.

Chad Littlefield answered in a text, “He’s right behind me, watch my six.” Meaning that Chris Kyle should watch his back.

The group arrived at the range with several rifles, five pistols and numerous boxes of ammunition. Kyle and Littlefield were both carrying loaded .45 caliber 1911 style pistols in leather holsters. Kyle and Routh both fired some rounds downrange.

Fatal shooting

Eddie Ray Routh later revealed that he was bothered by the fact that Littlefield was not shooting. He somehow saw that as a threat. Routh armed himself with a Springfield .45 pistol and a 9mm Sig Sauer P226 MK25 pistol, a model favored by Navy SEALS.

Kyle and Littlefield likely never saw it coming. Routh later confessed to shooting Littlefield first with the 9mm. He was shot seven times in the back, shoulder, head, and hand. Routh shot Kyle six times with the Springfield in the head, shoulder, chest and right arm. Both men fell dead with their sidearms still holstered. Kyle was left facedown in the grass and Littlefield was nearby on the shooting platform. Before he took off in Kyle’s truck, he reloaded the Sig and then took it with him along with one of the rifles and Littlefield’s cell phone. He left without being seen.

Tragic Death of Chris Kyle
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a recipient of a secret Silver Star. Death of Chris Kyle was one of the most tragic events in the SOF veteran community (Photo: Wiki)

Late in the afternoon, an employee noticed that the red flag was up indicating that the range was still in use. He drove out to the range and discovered the bodies. This was a little after 5 PM. The employee called the first responders who tried to revive the two men, but it was too late. Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were dead.

Motive and sentence for Chris Kyle’s murder

The motive for the killings was discovered much later, after Routh’s arrest. He complained to police officers that Kyle and Littlefield would not talk to him. He told a psychologist that the number of firearms in Kyle’s truck made him anxious and be became convinced that Kyle and Littlefield were planning on taking him to a remote area to kill him.

Former marine

Eddie Ray Routh enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school, at the age of 18. He became an armorer and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 but there was no record that he ever saw any combat during his tour.

Before he was released from the Marines, he spent four months in Haiti helping out with clean up after a devastating earthquake in January of 2010. After returning home he would tell stories of fishing bodies of men, women, and children out of the surf and aiding with their burial in mass graves. By all accounts when he arrived home he was a changed and highly disturbed man.

He began behaving erratically and started having panic attacks and delusional thoughts. At one point he believed an imaginary tapeworm was consuming everything he ate. He grew clinically depressed and talked to his family about shooting himself. Because of this, they took away his firearms.

In the summer of 2011, Routh was admitted to a VA hospital in Dallas for the first time. He was diagnosed with PTSD and was treated with a variety of anti-anxiety and antipsychotic medications. He also self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana.

In the fall of 2012 police picked up Routh walking up and down a road while babbling incoherently to himself. They took him to the VA again where psychiatrists diagnosed him with major depressive illness with psychotic delusions. After a short stay and some new meds, he was discharged.

For a time, he seemed to be doing better. He even found a girlfriend. The two had met online. After a while, they moved in together. She later recalled Routh saying things like, “I’ve killed before and I’ll do it again.”

On January 19, 2013, he suffered another psychotic break. Routh held his girlfriend and her roommate prisoner at knifepoint in their apartment. Police arrived once again, and once again he found himself admitted to a psych unit in the VA. After five days, he was released.

Reportedly, Routh’s mother, Jodi, pleaded with his VA psychiatrists not to release him. Unfortunately, they did. Jodi was running out of options on how to help her disturbed son so she turned to Chris Kyle.

On February 24, 2015, Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty of killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. The jury returned the verdict after less than three hours of deliberations. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Memorial

On February 2, 2015, exactly two years after Kyle’s murder, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the day “Chris Kyle Day”. In his hometown Odessa, there is Chris Kyle’s monument.

A memorial for slain Navy Seal and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle has been unveiled in the West Texas city where he was born in 1974. The monument was unveiled on July 28, 2016, and was privately-funded. Chris Kyle’s memorial includes a plaza, bronze statue. The Chris Kyle Memorial is located at the TX-191 Frontage, Odessa, TX 79765, United States.

People such as Chris Kyle were among the best of us. Boys who grew into men, and who sometimes never made it back home. They stood tall for us. For all of us. We can’t forget them.

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