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Chris Kyle: The Legendary American Sniper

Larry Slawson received his master's degree at UNC Charlotte. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian history.

Chris Kyle poses for photo with his sniper rifle.

Chris Kyle poses for photo with his sniper rifle.

Chris Kyle: Biographical Facts

  • Birth Name: Christopher Scott Kyle
  • Date of Birth: 8 April 1974
  • Place of Birth: Odessa, Texas
  • Date of Death: 2 February 2013 (38 Years of Age)
  • Place of Death: Erath County, Texas
  • Cause of Death: Gunshot (Murdered)
  • Place of Burial: Texas State Cemetery
  • Spouse(s): Tara Kyle (Married in 2002)
  • Children: Colton Kyle (Son); McKenna Kyle (Daughter)
  • Father: Wayne Kenneth Kyle
  • Mother: Deby Lynn Mercer
  • Siblings: Jeff Kyle (Brother)
  • Occupation(s): United States Navy SEAL; Sniper; Author; Professional Bronco Rider
  • Years of Military Service: 1999–2009
  • Highest Rank Achieved: Chief Petty Officer
  • Awards/Medals: Silver Star; Bronze Star; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement; Navy Unit Commendation; Navy Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Rifle Marksmanship Medal (Expert)
  • Best Known For: Most lethal sniper in American history.
  • Publications: American Sniper (2012); American Gun (2013)

Chris Kyle during a book signing event.

Chris Kyle during a book signing event.

Chris Kyle: Quick Facts

  • Christopher (Chris) Scott Kyle was born on 8 April 1974 to Wayne and Deby Lynn Kyle in Odessa, Texas. Kyle’s father was a Sunday school teacher and deacon at their local church, whereas his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Kyle received his first gun (a rifle) from his father at the age of eight. It was a Springfield .30-06 rifle. Later he was also given a shotgun. Kyle used both weapons to hunt around his family’s large farm, and became proficient with weapons at an early age, as a result. After graduating high school, Kyle was unsure of his future but decided to pursue a career as a professional bronco rider and ranch hand. His career was short-lived, however, after severely injuring his arm in a rodeo accident.
  • Shortly after his accident, Kyle visited his local military recruiting office in Texas with plans to join the United States Marine Corps special operations unit (Force Recon). While there, however, a Navy recruiter was able to persuade Kyle to try out for the Navy SEALs instead. Although his initial application to the military was denied, due to the metal pins that had to be placed in his arm from his rodeo accident, Kyle was able to get a medical waiver and was later invited to participate in the 24-week long “Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land Training (BUD/S) in Coronado, California (1999). He completed basic training in March 2001, graduating with class 233. He was later assigned to SEAL Team-3, Platoon “Charlie,” sniper element. In total, Chris Kyle would serve four tours of duty; providing key support to frontline units operating in Iraq following the invasion of 2003. It was also around this time that Kyle met his wife, Taya (1999). The pair married in 2002 and had two children.
  • Kyle’s first long-range kill was against a woman insurgent in Iraq who was carrying a grenade toward a squad of U.S. Marines. CNN initially reported that the woman was cradling a toddler in her arms. However, eyewitness reports and in-depth investigation later proved that this was false and that the woman did have a grenade in her possession at the time of the shooting. Kyle would be forced to make many more shots similar to this in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
  • Similar to the legendary Marine sniper, Carlos Hathcock, Kyle earned a reputation in Iraq as a deadly marksman amongst enemy combatants. While deployed to the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the insurgents nicknamed Kyle, “Shaitan Ar-Ramadi” (which translates to “The Devil of Ramadi”). Iraqi insurgents even placed a $20,000 bounty on Kyle’s head (and later increased that amount to $80,000). Signs were posted all across Ramadi and Iraq to identify Kyle.
  • Kyle played a vital role in the military operation to retake Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. During the operation, Kyle provided overwatch support to Marines entering the city. Using rooftops around the city for cover, Kyle closely followed the Marine patrols as they cleared each and every house in the city of enemy insurgents. On several occasions, Kyle assisted Marines caught in fierce firefights with the enemy, and even managed to drag a Marine Lieutenant to safety who was wounded in both legs. For this, Kyle was awarded the Bronze Star with a “V” for valor by the Marine Corps.
Chris Kyle's wife, Taya.

Chris Kyle's wife, Taya.

Quick Facts (continued)

  • In 2005, Kyle played a vital role in the protection of Iraqi citizens and politicians in the days leading up to Iraq’s first free election in its history. Tasked with protecting “Haifa Street” in Baghdad (known by Americans as “Purple Heart Boulevard” due to intense fighting that occurred daily there), Kyle and a unit from the Arkansas National Guard provided overwatch along the two-mile-long street. On one particular night, Kyle was nearly killed by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) that exploded only a few feet away from his location. His wife, Taya, overheard the entire incident as it transpired since Kyle had managed to call her via satellite phone only minutes before the attack began. Unaware that his phone was still connected, Taya heard the entire firefight as it took place. By the time Kyle was able to contact his wife (several days later), she was already emotionally distraught over the incident, fearing that her husband had been killed.
  • In addition to Baghdad and Fallujah, Kyle also participated in military operations around the city of Ramadi, which became a hotbed for insurgent forces around 2006. Similar to Fallujah, Kyle provided overwatch in a seven-story building. After four months of continuous fighting, Kyle was credited with 91 confirmed kills in the city of Ramadi alone and earned the Silver Star for his efforts against terrorist fighters there. On thirty different occasions, Kyle was successful in preventing Iraqi and American casualties with his sniping efforts. He was also credited with preventing several large-scale insurgent attacks, after taking out numerous enemy combatants who were attempting to organize coordinated assaults. Sadly, in August 2006, Kyle lost two of his SEAL brothers in combat. Ryan “Biggles” and Marc Lee were both wounded in action during a firefight with insurgents. Although “Biggles” survived for three years after the incident (later dying during a facial reconstruction surgery), Marc Lee died on the scene after suffering a fatal shot to the mouth and head. He was the first SEAL to die in Iraq; a death that greatly rattled Chris Kyle.
  • Only a few weeks after the death of his close friend, Kyle received news that his infant daughter had just been diagnosed with leukemia. Already suffering from the death of his friend, high blood pressure, and the effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Kyle struggled immensely with the news of his daughter. Combined with his commitment to serve in the military, each of these struggles greatly affected his relationship with his wife, Taya.
  • In 2008, Kyle was deployed for his fourth time and was sent to Sadr City on the outskirts of Baghdad. Kyle and his unit were tasked with protecting a team of construction workers as they built a large concrete wall around the city to prevent insurgents from using mortars against civilians and military units in the area. Kyle was nearly killed in Sadr City on numerous occasions, as insurgents flooded the area day after day. The long deployment and near-death experiences had serious effects on Kyle’s emotional and mental state. Upon returning home, Kyle made the decision to leave the military in order to be with his wife and kids (November 2009).
  • Kyle struggled immensely in the months following his return home, as he felt compelled to be with his brothers in their fight against insurgents in Iraq. In his memoir, Kyle recalls drinking heavily during this transition period in order to alleviate the deep depression that was engulfing him. Kyle was able to effectively overcome his depression, however, by actively working with other veterans; particularly those who were suffering from PTSD or who faced physical disabilities from the war. In 2011, Kyle even helped found the FITCO Cares Foundation; an organization that provided counseling to veterans. Kyle also used part of the profit from his 2012 book, American Sniper, for the families of American troops killed in combat.
  • Sadly, in 2013, Kyle was killed by a former Marine veteran that was suffering from PTSD. After taking the veteran to a shooting range in Glen Rose, Texas, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were both shot and killed by the man known as Eddie Ray Routh. Routh, who was mentally disturbed, was convinced that both Kyle and Littlefield were plotting to kill him on the shooting range. Without notice, Routh shot Kyle six times and Littlefield seven times. He was later captured by police, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole; thus, ending the life and career of one of America’s greatest military heroes in the blink of an eye.

Quote by Kyle

“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naïve, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.”

— Chris Kyle

Additional Facts About Chris Kyle

  • Although Chris Kyle was a U.S. Navy SEAL, he actually grew up with a tremendous fear of the water. In an interview with “Time Magazine,” Kyle told his interviewer: “If I see a puddle, I will walk around it.” Kyle was able to overcome this fear during BUD/S.
  • Kyle was credited with 160 confirmed kills in his career as a sniper. However, because “confirmed” kills have to be witnessed by a superior officer, this number is likely far higher. Kyle estimated that his total kills were probably double this amount. Kyle was never one to brag about his total kills, however. As he told “D Magazine” in an interview, the number of lives he saved was far more important than the ones he had to kill.
  • Chris Kyle’s longest shot was taken against an enemy fighter in Iraq. Kyle dropped the insurgent at 1.2 miles away (or approximately twenty-one football fields) with a single shot.
  • By the end of Kyle’s career, he had earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars. He also managed to survive two gunshot wounds, as well as six different IED (improvised explosive device) attacks.
  • After Kyle’s death, his funeral was held at the Dallas Cowboy’s football stadium, with his coffin resting on the fifty-yard line, draped in an American Flag. During the funeral procession, crowds lined up for miles alongside the highways and streets taken by Kyle’s hearse. Firefighters, police, and military units also paid their respects as well, saluting Kyle as he passed by his fellow Americans.
  • Chris Kyle's younger brother, Jeff Kyle, also served in the military. Jeff joined the United States Marine Corps, and served six years in an infantry unit, along with two more years in the Marine's elite, Force Recon.
  • In Texas, February 2nd is now known as "Chris Kyle Day." There is also part of a highway named after Kyle as well.

Chris Kyle Quotes

  • “It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naïve, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.”
  • “When I grew up, I only had two dreams. One was to be a cowboy and another was to be in the military. I grew up extremely patriotic and riding horses.”
  • “In the end, my story, in Iraq and afterward, is about more than just killing people or even fighting for my country. It’s about being a man. And it’s about love as well as hate.”
  • “There’s definitely still a lot of hurt from losing my guys or the fact that I got out and I felt like it wasn’t my time yet.”
  • “Every person I killed I strongly believe that they were bad. When I do go face God there is going to be lots of things I will have to account for, but killing any of those people is not one of them.”
  • “I would love for people to be able to think of me as a guy who stood up for what he believed in and helped make a difference for the vets.”
  • "After I was discharged from the military, it was difficult trying to become a civilian."
  • "I really don't care what people think of me. I've got my family. I've got my friends. Yes, I have been trained to be a little more aggressive if I need to be, but I don't go around thumping people."
  • "War is hell. Hollywood fantasizes about it and makes it look good... war sucks."
  • "I don't have to psych myself up, or do something specially mentally. I look through the scope, get my target in the crosshairs, and kill my enemy before he kills one of my people."
Chris Kyle photo.

Chris Kyle photo.

Chris Kyle's Legacy

In closing, Chris Kyle was one of the most lethal snipers in American history and certainly earned the right to be honored among legendary snipers, such as Carlos Hathcock. Although Kyle’s life was tragically cut short, leaving behind a wife and two children, his memory lives on in the hearts and minds that knew him best. Moreover, Kyle died while trying to help those that he loved most; his fellow military brothers. Kyle’s legend lives on, as he will continue to be remembered year after year for his unwavering commitment and service to his country and fellow servicemen.

Works Cited

Images / Photographs:

Greenblatt, Mark Lee. "Two Chris Kyle Stories You Won't See in 'American Sniper'." Accessed March 29, 2019.

Rothman, Lily. "American Sniper: Who Was Chris Kyle?" Time. January 20, 2015. Accessed March 31, 2019.

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Read More From Owlcation

Wikipedia contributors, "Chris Kyle," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 29, 2019).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Larry Slawson


squrllo on May 20, 2019:

what doing

Larry Slawson (author) from North Carolina on March 30, 2019:

Yeah, such a sad story. I think that I read somewhere that his daughter made a full recovery, however. So there was at least one happy ending to the story.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 30, 2019:

It is such a shame that Kyle was killed by someone he was trying to help. I have watched "Shooter", which is losely based on his shooting ability. I didn't know about his daughter. His story is worth being told, and this article does just that.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 29, 2019:

The movie title rings bells with me. Thanks.

Larry Slawson (author) from North Carolina on March 29, 2019:

Thank you Liz. Yeah, its a tragedy in every sense of the word. He managed to make it through all those operations in Iraq, but was killed by a fellow service-member at a shooting range. They made a movie about his life too. It is called "American Sniper." Clint Eastwood directed the film. Its really good.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 29, 2019:

I had never heard of Kyle before. This is an interesting but sad biography.

Larry Slawson (author) from North Carolina on March 29, 2019:

I loved the movie too! Pretty powerful. Especially the ending!

Ehilenbalu David Uduebor from Baton Rouge on March 29, 2019:

Thanks for sharing... I loved the movir when I saw it

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