Chris Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper and the most lethal sniper in American history who became famous after publishing his bestselling autobiography ‘American Sniper’ in 2012. He spent ten years as a SEAL until his honorably discharged in 2009. 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.
On April 8, 1974, Chris Kyle was born in Odessa, a small town in Texas, like 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 eight 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.
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.
His path to the BUD/s wasn’t easy. He went to the military recruiting office with the idea to join the US Marine Corps, but a US 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 survived 6 IED explosions. He also earned dozens of awards and decorations for his service, including one Silver Star and four Bronze Stars for his combat tours in Iraq.
The most lethal sniper in US military history
The whole military career Chris spent as a sniper. In Iraq, he learned 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 hit 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.
His unofficial kill count was 266 kills, out of which the Pentagon officially confirmed 166. With this score, Chris Kyle has become the most lethal sniper in the US military’s history. 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 a confirmed kill, the shooter and his pointer “need to see the person fall and be 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.
Chris Kyle used standard-issue Sig Sauer P226 as his favorite sidearm, while he had several sniper rifles he usually used depending on the occasion.
- Navy Mk-12 Special Purpose Rifle
- Mk-11 Mod X Special Purpose Rifle (SR-25)
- M-24 Sniper Weapon System
- M82A1 (M107)
- .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 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.”
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 the 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 and private security and protection.
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 up 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 to favor 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.
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 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 free of charge.
During the drive to the shooting range, Kyle and Littlefield have been getting bad vibes from Routh. 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.” This means 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 carried loaded .45 caliber 1911 style pistols in leather holsters. Kyle and Routh both fired some rounds downrange.
Eddie Ray Routh later revealed that he was bothered 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 taking 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.
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 he became convinced that Kyle and Littlefield were planning on taking him to a remote area to kill him.
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 their burial in mass graves. When he arrived home, he was a changed and highly disturbed man by all accounts.
He began behaving erratically and started having panic attacks and delusional thoughts. He believed an imaginary tapeworm was consuming everything he ate at one point. 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 various anti-anxiety and antipsychotic medications. He also self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana.
In 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, “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.
Routh’s mother, Jodi, repeatedly pleaded with his VA psychiatrists not to release him. Unfortunately, they did. Jodi ran out of options 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.
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.