Courage and dedication to duty are ideals that many Americans hold in the highest regard. Throughout our history, many men and women have served our country bravely without asking for anything in return. Out of the public eye, the accomplishments of these heroes often go uncelebrated except for a select few. A former Navy SEAL named Chris Kyle became one of the select group to have their accomplishments celebrated far and wide across the nation. No one could have realized at the time how much his story would come to grip the American public.
From dodging bullets on the fields of Afghanistan to raising a family, the story of Chris Kyle is one of great highs and terrible lows, yet one that is a distinctly American tale. Chris’s early life can be summed up simply. He was the son of a church deacon and Sunday school teacher living near Odessa, Texas. When Chris was still very young, his father taught him how to fire a weapon. By the time he was eight he owned a Springfield rifle and a shotgun. He practiced his new skills with his father often as they would hunt pheasant, quail, and deer near their home.
Kyle was a Texan at heart and could have been described as a bit of a cowboy. He loved horses and rodeos so much that he practiced after school to become a professional bronco rider. During these days he studied agriculture at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas for two years. Following college he took a job as a ranch hand (chriskyleamericansniper. com 2015) The industry before Chris Kyle entered the military can only be described as gruesome as war spread across the Middle East. The war started when a group of terrorists began causing havoc in their own country.
The United States became aware of these actions and began taking precautions to safeguard the country in case of a threat. The Gulf War was one such conflict that occurred before 9/11. Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq, lead his country to war over oil and invaded Kuwait. Hussein was said to have stated, “We are not intimidated by the size of armies, or the type of hardware the United States has brought” (www. cryan. com 2016). Saddam was defeated, but the United States would once again find itself fighting Iraq after 9/11. The initial war went well for the United States and Saddam was toppled.
However, as war dragged on without end the United States began to suffer more and more casualties. George W. Bush, the PResident of the United States, became more concerned about the war and he took it upon himself to deploy more troops after asking Congress (www. cryan. com 2016). One of these people would be Chris Kyle. Kyle originally tried enlisting with the Marines, but the Navy recruited him to be a SEAL. After weathering a demanding selection process, Kyle was selected for and trained as a sniper. With the defeat of Saddam, the industry became more controllable.
After becoming a Navy SEAL Chris was deployed into combat. Open combat spread across the country as the Iraqi insurgency attacked American and Coalition troops at any opportunity. Over the course of his 10-year military career, Kyle served four combat deployments to Iraq. Kyle was very effective at his job in special operations, and became a legend among the troops who knew him. The insurgents even gave him a nickname, “The Devil of Ramadi. ” The nickname also came a $20,000 bounty for his head. No one was able to collect (www. biography. com).
Chris Kyle would serve with distinction during his tours in the second Iraq War. An Oct. 1, 2006 evaluation characterized Kyle as “One of the most effective combat snipers in U. S. military history. ” No one could question Kyle’s patriotism or courage. He survived things that would have killed many other men. During his career as a Navy SEAL he had 160 confirmed kills and survived six IEDs. His efforts earned him two Silver Star medals and five Bronze Stars for valor in combat (military. com 2016). In fact, his first confirmed kill as a sniper took place during the initial invasion of Iraq.
While charged with overwatch on a group of Marines clearing a road, he noticed a woman approaching with a grenade and fired eliminating the threat with one shot (military. com 2016). After 2009, Chris Kyle retired from active operations as a Navy SEAL. Kyle’s transition back to civilian life was a difficult one. However, he felt that his job of helping his fellow troops and country was not yet done. He was determined to help fellow veterans who came out of the war with disabilities and PTSD. To do so, Chris launched a non-profit organization named FITCO Cares Foundation.
The foundation would supply fitness equipment to wounded and disabled service members to help them get their lives back on track (biography. com 2016). Kyle also would make many appearances on television promoting his foundation and talking about his experiences in the war. In 2012, Kyle appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show recounting his experiences. “Seeing those guys getting shot up, it would chew me up inside to know that I sat back in safety and didn’t help them” (military. com 2016). Kyle’s retirement after active duty also allowed him to do other things besides help fellow veterans.
As much as he tried to put things that happened in the past behind him, he was forever tied to his time as a sniper. Kyle wrote a book titled American Sniper detailing and discussing his experiences while he was in the field. The book would go on to be a bestseller, and eventually become a movie. Kyle’s childhood passion for guns remained with him following his military service. Kyle would found and become the president of a training company called Craft International. The company would provide instruction in firearms and other tactics members of the US military and local law enforcement.
Through his company and his books Kyle’s hulking presence and quiet demeanor came to define what it meant to be a military hero to the American public. His fame only grew as he appeared on talk shows and participated in the NBC competition show, Stars Earn Stripes (www. biography. com 2016). The impact of Chris Kyle’s life on my own is one of true inspiration. Chris wasn’t just a Navy SEAL, he was a father, husband and a brother. However, in the course of his career he sometimes forgot about those he loved. This made his family life difficult.
Kyle often never thought about how his actions would hurt other people. This took a toll on many people, but people loved him anyway. Most people had an idea of snipers as sneaky and cowardly but when people saw Chris he changed their minds. Chris Kyle came to stand for nobleness and love of country and as a result many in the United States no longer look at snipers the same way. Chris was a flawed person, but he never once thought about himself. Everything he did was for the benefit of others around him. He always took control of the situation in times others would have panicked.
For that and many other things Christopher Kyle will always be remembered as a legend in my mind. Kyle’s life came to a tragic end on February 2, 2013, when he and a colleague, Chad Littlefield were murdered in a very American way. Both men were shot at a gun range outside of Fort Worth, Texas, by Eddie Ray Routh. Routh was an ex-Marine who had a long history of mental illness. Kyle was murdered by one of the very people he had been trying to help. Kyle, who was 38 at the time of his death, had worked with the 25-year-old Routh in the months prior to the shooting (today. com 2015).
Kyle’s murder drew an outpouring of support, especially in his home state of Texas. It is estimated 7,000 people attended a public service for the late SEAL at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. In addition to his wife, Taya, Kyle’s survivors included his two young children. After his death, Kyle’s fame in the American population only grew, and millions more came to know him through the movie based on his book. Yet, Kyle’s rise to fame as a sniper was truly an uniquely American tale. In no other country could the exploits of a sniper have gripped the imagination of the public so greatly.
It should be no shock that Kyle’s tale came to an end in an American way as well. He was gunned down by a mentally unstable man abandoned by his country after service at his own shooting range. No other country could imagine this great story happening there because it truly couldn’t. Only in America could an unstable person readily get their hands on a gun. Only in America would people who have given everything for their country be allowed rot with their condition. Chris Kyle’s life and America’s shortcomings truly made the tale of the American Sniper, and without both it could not have existed.