Chris Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper and the deadliest sniper in American history, who rose to fame after publishing his bestselling autobiography "American Sniper" in 2012.
He spent 10 years in the ranks of the SEALs until his honorable discharge in 2009. During that time, he was shot twice and survived six improvised explosive device blasts.
Chris Kyle died in a homicide at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas in 2013.
Chris Kyle was born on April 8, 1974 in Odessa, a small town in Texas, as Christopher Scott Kyle. He was the eldest of two boys born to Deby Lynn and Wayne Kenneth Kyle.
His first encounter with firearms was when he was 8 years old. His father bought him his first rifle, a Springfield 30-06 bolt-action rifle, and later a shotgun. They liked to hunt deer, pheasant and quail.
He attended high school in Midlothian, Texas. Kyle graduated in 1992 and soon became a professional bronco rider and ranch hand. His professional career came to an end when he seriously injured his arm. After this part of his life, Kyle attended Tarleton State University from 1992 to 1994. He studied Ranch and Pasture Management.
His path to the BUD/s was not easy. He went to the military recruiting office with the idea of joining the Marine Corps, but someone recruited by the US Navy convinced him to try the Navy SEALs instead.
During his first evaluation, he was rejected because of the pins in his arm, but he eventually received an invitation to BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) training). Kyle was sent to this 24-week training in Coronado, California in 1999.
Chris Kyle graduated from BUD/s Class 233 in March 2001. Shortly after graduation, he was assigned to Seal Team 3. He served as the sniper element, "Charlie" Platoon (later "Cadillac"), within the Naval Special Warfare Command.
During his military service, he served four times in Iraq. Chris Kyle was shot twice and survived 6 improvised explosive device explosions. He also earned dozens of awards and decorations for his service, including a Silver Star and four Bronze Stars for his combat tours in Iraq.
The deadliest sniper in US military history
Chris has spent his entire military career as a sniper. In Iraq, he learned not to hesitate, but to shoot straight. He killed for the first time in Iraq, shooting a woman who was about to attack a group of American marines with a grenade.
Chris Kyle was lying on top of a building in a city in Iraq on the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The marines couldn't see the threat the woman posed.
His commander told him to shoot, but his hesitation was stronger than him. He only pulled the trigger on the second command. He fired at his first target and eliminated the threat. The woman dropped the grenade when she was shot. Kyle fired at her again as the grenade exploded.
Its unofficial death toll is 266, of which 166 have been officially confirmed by the Pentagon. With this score, Chris Kyle became the deadliest sniper in US military history. He was part of Task Force Bruiser, led by Jocko Willink, another famous SEAL operator.
The previous US record was around 109 confirmed kills. For a shot to be considered confirmed, the shooter and their pointer "must see the person fall and be clearly dead."
This is why U.S. Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock estimated that he killed between 300 and 400 enemies during his time in Vietnam, but had only 93 confirmed North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong kills.
Chris Kyle used a standard Sig Sauer P226 as his preferred sidearm, while he had several sniper rifles which he generally used depending on the occasion.
- Navy Mk-12 Special Purpose Rifle
- Special Purpose Rifle Mk-11 Mod X (SR-25)
- M-24 Sniper
- M82A1 (M107)
- .338 Lapua from MacMillan and Accuracy International
The Devil of Ramadi and the myth
Chris Kyle's deadly reputation earned him the nickname Al-Shaitan Ramadi - the Devil of Ramadi - during his mission to Ramadi and a bounty of $20,000 was put on his head.
However, this same reputation earned him a different nickname among his fellow soldiers, including the Marines he was tasked with protecting - The Legend.
This nickname originated among Kyle's other SEALs after he took a sabbatical to train other snipers in Fallujah, and was sometimes referred to as "The Myth".
After ten years of service, Kyle 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 for pulling the trigger.
My only regret is the people I couldn't save, marines, soldiers, friends... I'm not naive and I don't try to romanticize war, but I'm ready to meet God with a clear conscience,'' concludes Chris Kyle.
In 2009, he decided he would not return to the Navy, as, as reported, he wanted to save his marriage. He created his own military company, Craft International.
It offers sniper training for military and law enforcement, as well as private security and protection services.
The bestselling book chronicling his exploits as an elite sniper in Iraq was turned into the hit movie "American Sniper" starring Bradley Cooper in 2014.
Along with all of his assignments, he enjoyed helping veterans with PTSD and other mental issues recover and readapt to civilian life.
Fatal Conduct: The Death of Chris Kyle
The tragic death of Chris Kyle has shocked America. The famous Navy SEAL sniper was the victim of a homicide on February 2, 2013.
He was killed alongside his friend Chad Littlefield at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range. The killer was later identified as Eddie Ray Routh.
The fatal journey
In the early morning of February 2, 2013, Chris Kyle picked up Eddie Ray Routh in his black F-350 from a house in Lancaster, Texas. Just outside of Dallas. He had agreed to spend the day with Eddie Routh to do a favor for the latter's mother.
She worked at Kyle's children's school and thought spending some time with the Navy SEAL might help boost her son's morale.
A call for help
One day when he came to pick up his children from school, she approached Kyle and asked for his help. She knew he had spent a lot of time helping other disabled veterans and told him about her son Eddie's issues.
Chris Kyle listened intently, then agreed to reach out to the struggling ex-Marine.
From this tiny Lancaster home, Chris Kyle, Eddie Routh and Kyle's good friend Chad Littlefield drove an hour and forty-five minutes to Rough Creek Lodge, an upscale 11,000-acre resort .
Shooting Range at Rough Creek Lodge
Kyle had helped design a shooting range in a remote corner of Rough Creek and could use the facility or stay at the Lodge with his family anytime, free of charge.
During the drive to the shooting range, Kyle and Littlefield also got some bad vibes from Routh. Even though they were sitting next to each other in the truck, Kyle texted Littlefield, "This guy is fucking nuts."
Chad Littlefield replied in a text: "He's right behind me, watching my back." Which means Chris Kyle should watch his back.
The group arrived at the firing range with several rifles, five pistols and numerous boxes of ammunition. Kyle and Littlefield both carried loaded 45 caliber 1911 style pistols in leather holsters. Kyle and Routh both fired a few rounds towards the ground.
Eddie Ray Routh later revealed he was bothered by Littlefield not shooting. He saw it as a kind of threat. Routh armed himself with a Springfield .45 pistol and a Sig Sauer P226 MK25 9mm pistol, a model favored by Navy SEALS.
Kyle and Littlefield probably didn't see 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, their handguns still holstered. Kyle was left face down in the grass and Littlefield was nearby on the shooting platform.
Before leaving in Kyle's truck, he reloaded the Sig and took it with him, along with one of Littlefield's guns and 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 went to the shooting range and discovered the bodies.
It was a little after 5 p.m. The employee called the first aid who tried to revive the two men, but it was too late. Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were dead.
Motive and sentence for the murder of Chris Kyle
The motive for the murders was discovered much later, after Routh's arrest. He complained to the police that Kyle and Littlefield didn't want to talk to him. He told a psychologist that the number of guns in Kyle's truck made him anxious and that he was convinced that Kyle and Littlefield intended to take him to a remote area to kill him.
Eddie Ray Routh joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, when he was 18. He became a gunsmith and was deployed to Iraq in 2007, but there is no evidence that he saw any combat action while on duty.
Before being discharged from the Marines, he spent four months in Haiti helping clean up after the devastating January 2010 earthquake. After his return, he said he recovered bodies of men, women and of children in the waves and that he had helped bury them in mass graves. By all accounts, when he arrived home he was a changed and very disturbed man.
He started behaving erratically, having panic attacks and delusional thoughts. At one point he thought an imaginary tapeworm was devouring everything he ate. He became clinically depressed and talked to his family about killing himself. Because of this, they took away his firearms.
In the summer of 2011, Routh was first admitted to a veterans hospital in Dallas. He was diagnosed with PTSD and was treated with a variety of anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications. He was also self-medicating with alcohol and marijuana.
In the fall of 2012, police arrested Routh walking along a road while talking to himself incoherently. They took him again to the VA where psychiatrists diagnosed a major depressive illness with psychotic delusions. After a short stay and taking new medication, he is released.
For a while, he seemed to get 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 will do it again".
On January 19, 2013, he suffered another psychotic attack. Routh held his girlfriend and roommate prisoner at knifepoint in their apartment. The police arrived once more, and once again he found himself admitted to a VA psychiatric unit. After five days, he was released.
Routh's mother, Jodi, reportedly pleaded with VA psychiatrists not to release him. Unfortunately, they did. Jodi was out of options to help her troubled son, so she turned to Chris Kyle.
On February 24, 2015, Eddie Ray Routh was convicted of the murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. The jury delivered its verdict after less than three hours of deliberation. He was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
On February 2, 2015, exactly two years after Chris Kyle was murdered, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the day Chris Kyle Day. In his hometown, Odessa, is the monument to Chris Kyle.
A memorial for slain Navy Seal and 'American Sniper' author Chris Kyle has been unveiled in the West Texas town where he was born in 1974. The monument was unveiled on July 28, 2016 and was funded by private funds. The Chris Kyle memorial includes a plaza, bronze statue. The Chris Kyle Memorial is located on the front of TX-191, Odessa, TX 79765, USA.
People like Chris Kyle were some of the best of us. Boys who became men, and who sometimes never returned home. They stood up for us. For all of us. We cannot forget them.