Known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who served during the Iraq War, has become renowned as the American Sniper.
Chris Kyle was born in 1974 in Odessa, Texas. He graduated from Midlothian High School in 1992 and attended Tarleton State University for two years. After a bull riding injury in a rodeo, he quit school to enlist in the military. Kyle was 25 when he joined the Navy SEALs as a sniper.
In 2003, Kyle’s platoon deployed to Iraq. In the city of Nasiriya, his team provided rooftop security for Marines on the ground. One time, he saw a woman pull out a grenade; using his .300 Winchester Magnum, Kyle followed his order to shoot, thus saving multiple nearby Marines’ lives.
With each additional tour to Fallujah in 2004, Ramadi in 2006, and Baghdad in 2008, Kyle’s skill as a sniper was challenged. He once hit an insurgent from 1.2 miles away. Enemies had a $20,000 bounty on his head and used his Christian tattoo of a crusader’s cross as a way to identify him. They called him “the Devil of Ramadi” after he recorded 91 kills in that city.
The deaths of of his friends greatly affected him. After he witnessed the shooting of two members on his team, Kyle returned home to his wife and daughter, who was ill. Then another friend died.
After 10 years of service, Kyle left the military to save his marriage. He was honorably discharged in 2009 and received one Silver Star and four Bronze Star Medals with “V” devices for valor.
After struggling to transition to civilian life with his family, Kyle worked to find a sense of purpose: he started his own business, called Craft International, a security company that trains shooting skills to soldiers. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the team that killed Osama Bin Laden, received training through Craft. Kyle also began to exercise more. His partnership with the FITCO Cares Foundation provided Veterans around the country with exercise equipment.
Kyle’s autobiography, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal American Sniper,” published in January 2012. Two years later, “American Sniper,” the film adaptation to his book that was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Bradley Cooper, became a national sensation. Kyle appeared on Conan O’Brien’s talk show and on the NBC reality television show, “Stars Earn Stripes.”
On Feb. 2, 2013, while using the shooting range to bond with other Veterans, Kyle was killed by another Veteran. His tragic death was mourned by over 7,000 people who attended his public funeral service at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In June 2013, his second book, “American Gun,” was released posthumously.
We honor his service.
Writer: Hannah Nelson
Editors: Katherine Berman, Christopher Wilson
Graphic Designer: Helena Strohmier