Birthday: April 8, 1974
Death Date: February 2, 2013
Birth Place: Odessa, Texas
Height: 6′ 2′′
Net Worth: $2 million
As a long-time admirer of Chris Kyle, I‘ve extensively researched his incredible life story and military career. Kyle was one of the most skilled snipers in history and a true American hero. His bestselling autobiography "American Sniper" offers a raw, inside look at the reality of war that few notice. Beyond his achievements, Kyle overcame many personal struggles and dedicated himself tirelessly to helping fellow veterans. Though tragically killed in his prime, Chris Kyle‘s legacy as a patriot and selfless role model will live on for generations.
Early Life in Texas
Born in Odessa, Texas on April 8, 1974, Chris Kyle was raised with traditional values of God, country, and family. An excellent hunter and shooter from childhood, he learned marksmanship while hunting deer and pheasant with his father. After graduating high school in 1992, Kyle attended Tarleton State University on a rodeo scholarship. But his professional rodeo ambitions ended due to injuries. This led Kyle to leave college and enter the military in 1999 at the age of 24.
Navy SEAL Training and Early Career
Kyle joined the rigorous Navy SEAL training program in 1999, undergoing the infamous "Hell Week" and 6-month BUD/S course. His sniper skills were immediately apparent, and he graduated with SEAL class 233 in early 2000. Kyle was assigned to SEAL Team 3, part of Naval Special Warfare Command.
After the 9/11 attacks, Kyle deployed to Iraq in March 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned his first Silver Star just 6 weeks into deployment for protecting fellow troops during an ambush. The intense urban combat and lethal cat-and-mouse game with insurgents suited Kyle‘s cool demeanor and elite marksmanship.
Four Tours of Duty in Iraq
During four tours in Iraq from 2003-2009, Kyle cemented his reputation as one of the deadliest snipers in history with 160 confirmed kills out of 255 claimed kills. He served in every major battle during the Iraq War, from the initial invasion to Fallujah and Ramadi. His longest confirmed kill shot down an enemy insurgent from 2,100 yards away.
Kyle pioneered advanced sniper techniques to conceal himself in combat zones, like punching holes in walls to shoot unseen through structures. His fearsome reputation earned him the nickname “The Devil of Ramadi” from enemy forces. Kyle carved a skull symbol onto his weapon and wore Punisher logo patches – anything for a psychological edge over insurgents.
Medals and Commendations
For conspicuous gallantry in combat, Kyle was awarded:
- 2 Silver Star Medals
- 5 Bronze Star Medals with Valor Device
- 1 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
- 1 National Defense Service Medal
- 2 Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbons
He received numerous other commendations including the Grateful Nation Award in 2012 and the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor.
“American Sniper” Book and Film
After retiring from the Navy in 2009, Kyle documented his experiences in Iraq with his memoir “American Sniper” in 2012. It provided an unflinching portrayal of the raw, dangerous existence of SEAL snipers in urban combat. The book became an instant New York Times bestseller.
In 2014, "American Sniper" was adapted into a critically acclaimed film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper. It grossed over $547 million worldwide and cementing Kyle‘s legend. Though thrust into fame, Kyle remained a humble and private man at heart.
Dedication to Helping Veterans
Despite his war achievements, Kyle‘s proudest contribution was supporting fellow veterans after returning home. He started FITCO Cares in 2012 to provide exercise equipment and training to vets with PTSD and injuries. Kyle would also take small groups on regular retreats to share camaraderie and counseling. His tireless personal dedication to this cause characterized his enormous spirit.
Death and Legacy
On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were tragically killed while assisting a troubled Marine veteran at a Texas gun range. This devastated the nation and the military community who lost a peerless fighter and selfless mentor. Kyle was laid to rest with full military honors at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Chris Kyle displayed bravery and skill that will never be forgotten. As a sniper, he saved countless American and civilian lives on the battlefield. His dedication to protecting his brothers-in-arms and lifting up struggling veterans after combat showed Kyle‘s true measure. Though taken too soon at 38, Chris Kyle‘s powerful legacy as an American hero endures.