Birth Name: Christopher Scott Kyle
Date of Birth: 8 April 1974
Place of Birth: Odessa, Texas
Date of Death: 2 February 2013 (Thirty-Eight 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)
Quick Facts About Kyle
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 towards 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.
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 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 the 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 upon 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, to 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 sentence 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.
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.