Special Operations Forces Profile: Chris Kyle

Former SEAL Chris Kyle
Former SEAL Chris 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 naive, 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."

Renowned as the deadliest sniper in America's military history, Chris Kyle began shooting at 8 years old when his father bought him a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle. He put in time practicing with it when his father took him to hunt pheasant, quail, and deer in Texas near their home in Odessa.

Related: Here's Why Chris Kyle Wore a Ball Cap Instead of a Helmet

After school, he worked as a professional rodeo bronco rider, but that career was cut short when suffered an injury to his arm. Once healed, Kyle decided to join the military. He originally tried for the Marines, but a Navy recruiter convinced him to attempt becoming a SEAL. Although initially rejected due to pins in his arms post-injury, Kyle later received an offer to attend Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school (BUDS) and joined in 1999.

Kyle was assigned to SEAL Team 3 and served four tours of duty which included numerous major battles. His first confirmed kill as a sniper took place during the initial invasion of Iraq.

Related: Two Chris Kyle Stories You Won't See in 'American Sniper'

Charged with overwatch on a group of Marines clearing a road, he noticed a woman approaching with a grenade and fired under orders, eliminating the threat with one shot. While deployed in Ramadi, he was so effective that the enemy combatants named him Shaitain Ar-Ramadi, which translates to The Devil of Ramadi. A $20,000 bounty was issued for his death and was soon increased to $80,000.

Kyle's reputation as the deadliest sniper in American military history is currently uncontested. Out of 255 claimed kills, 160 were confirmed. His farthest confirmed kill took place in 2008 near Sadr City at 2,100 yards away. Kyle saw a combatant with a rocket launcher moving towards an American convoy and killed him with a single round. Throughout the rest of this career, Kyle was shot twice, survived six IEDs, and earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for valor in combat.

Kyle left the military in 2009 and lived in Midlothian, Texas with his wife and two children. He became president of a training company, Craft International, where he instructed members of the US military and local law enforcement.

He died tragically on February 2, 2013, when he and a friend were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range in Texas by veteran Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who reportedly suffers from PTSD and will be on trial for the murders. Kyle was buried on February 12, 2013, in Austin, Texas, after a funeral procession that stretched over 200 miles, with thousands of residents paying their respects along the way.


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