April 8th, 1974, a cowboy at heart from north central Texas, instilled by values of patriotism, the importance of family, working hard and protecting others, Chris Kyle was born. An American hero, eventually becoming the deadliest sniper in American history. The eldest of two boys, raised by his mother Deby, a Sunday school teacher and Father Wayne, a deacon of the church, Kyle was raised in Christian faith with the priorities “God, Country, Family”.
Growing up on a ranch and hunting deer and turkey with his family brought Kyle in contact with guns at a young age.
His “first gun”, a daisy multi-pump BB rifle was eventually upgraded to his first real rifle at age 7 or 8, a bolt action .30-06. As a young teen, the admiration of being a cowboy grew into a lifestyle. Working with horses on the ranch, learning how to “break them” by keeping them from bucking was a learning process that required patience. Kyle believed the patience he acquired through this process later assisted him in his military career as a sniper.
While in high school, Kyle played baseball and football but his dream of being a cowboy grew with the excitement of rodeo. Rodeo required the rider to ride a horse for eight seconds, scoring points for style and finesse. Winning multiple tournaments, Kyle traveled and partied during his “cowboy” lifestyle eventually retiring from rodeo after being injured by a bronco resulting in broken wrists, ribs, and a dislocated shoulder. After graduating high school, Kyle attended college at Tarleton State University, an agricultural university in Texas.
At the time, Kyle was interested in becoming a ranch manager and had also thought about a career in the military, specifically special operations. Persuaded by his mother, Kyle ultimately decided to go to college with the plan of joining the military after. While a college student, Kyle was offered a job as a “ranch hand” on a ten thousand acre ranch feeding cattle, riding horses, and maintaining the grounds. Although Kyle enjoyed the tasks of a “ranch hand”, studying and attending classes were not as entertaining. Ultimately deciding to quit college and become a soldier, Kyle started his search for a new career at a military recruiting center. Initially, looking for the Marine recruiter, who was unavailable at the time, an Army recruiter pulled Kyle in for a brief introduction to Army special operations. After leaving the Army recruiter, a Navy recruiter asked to speak to him about the Navy SEALs (Sea Earth and Land Team). After being briefed on the SEALs training, operations and duties and finding out only ten percent of applicants make it through the training, Kyle left the military office knowing exactly which branch and team he wanted to be a part of, The SEALs. After filling out his application for the Navy SEALs, Kyle received notice that he would not qualify due to the injury sustained during his rodeo career.
Going back to ranch work for little over a year, Kyle received an unlikely phone call from the Navy inquiring if he was still interested in the Navy SEALs, he accepted the offer and started Navy Boot Camp in 1997 with a Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) in intelligence. During this time before SEALs training, Kyle prepared his body physically and focused on swimming which wasn’t his strongest asset at the time. The next part of the training process was Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training (BUD/S). A three phase, twenty-four week training challenge consisting of Physical Conditioning, Combat Diving, and Land Warfare designed to develop and test candidate’s stamina, leadership and ability to work as a team. After passing phase one of BUD/S, Kyle sustained a perforated eardrum which medically sidelined him until his eardrum healed. Being reenrolled into SEAL class 233, Kyle picked up where he left off and subsequently, graduated all phases of SEAL training in 2001.
Upon graduation, Kyle received his SEAL Trident and was selected to SEAL Team 3 based out of Coronado, CA, his top choice. He received his orders and moved to San Diego, CA. There he met his future wife Taya at a local bar. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Taya woke Kyle after news reports indicated a plane had struck the World Trade Center. Kyle was immediately recalled and sent into predeployment training. After training and prior to deployment, Kyle and Taya decided to get married, given the current climate, they wed and honeymooned in three days. Not before long in winter 2002, Kyle found himself sailing the Persian Gulf on his first deployment mission to enforce United Nation sanctions on Iraq. SEAL Team Three’s first mission required them to board a tanker ship which was suspected of violating UN sanctions. With the assistance of the Polish Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego (GROM), SEAL Team Three boarded dozens of Iraqi ships each night. As the war in Iraq intensified, SEAL Team Three moved inland where they protected the borders of Kuwait. Eventually they were transferred to Iraq to partake in Operation Iraqi Freedom. During Kyle’s first deployment, he was tasked with manning M-60 machine guns on dessert patrol vehicles looking for suicide bombers and capturing Iraqi oil refineries. Once the United States declared war on Iraq, Team Three, along with Marine counterparts move through Iraq towards Baghdad. At one point, Kyle discovers multiple fallen Marine soldiers in a makeshift grave. His brother Jeff joined the Marines shortly after 9/11 which was concerning because he hadn’t heard from his brother in a while, he checks in to confirm his brother is alive and well while stationed in Iraq. After his first deployment comes to an end, Kyle returns home as he adjusts to civilian life. He experiences a few post traumatic incidents and with the help of his wife, was able to work through them.
While back in the States, Kyle attends Navy SEAL Sniper School. He notes that the most difficult part of the training was the stalking portion. The objective of stalking is to reach your target, delivering multiple shots then retreat all undetected. Having patience and professional discipline was the key to being a successful stalker. Observation played another important role. Learning what areas to focus on, what movement should warrant your attention and the ability to look long distance, spotting movement, different shapes or inconsistencies. Kyle states he was never the best shooter, he failed his first qualification but ultimately ended up graduating in the middle of the pack of his class. The four basic rifles Kyle trained on were semi-automatic suppressed M-12, 5.56 and M-11 or SR-25, 7.62 rifles, a suppressed bolt action .300 Win Mag rifle and finally an unsuppressed .50 caliber rifle. His personal favorite and the weapon used for most of his kills was the .300 Win Mag. He also liked using the SR-25 for patrol due to its versatility. He could remove the suppressor and reattach it if a long range shot was necessary. The .50 cal was the least favorite, he claiclaimed it was too large and heavy and never actually used it in Iraq. During the end of his military career and on his last deployment, Kyle transitioned to a .338 Lapua Mag bolt operated rifle. It was this weapon that shot his longest kill at 2,100 yards. His issued sidearm was a 9mm Sig Sauer P226 which he replaced that with his own Sig P220 .45 caliber.
It was no secret combat was something Kyle lived for. The opportunity to protect his country was a top priority as stated before, God, Country, Family. During the course of his military career his military priority routinely conflicted with his duties as a husband and father. On both occasions, Kyle deployed days after the birth of his son Colton and daughter McKenna. With each rotation back to the states, Kyle feels as if he’s abandoning his soldiers at war. With the nickname “Legend”, he takes on the role of training new SEAL snipers and gets promoted to Chief Petty Officer (CPO). After being informed his daughter may have leukemia, Kyle returns home from his third deployment. He attends marriage counseling where he decides “Others could do my job protecting the country, but no one could truly take my place with my family.” After finishing his fourth and final deployment, Kyle attempts to adjust to civilian life. He partners with an old British Army sniper friend Mark Spicer and founds Craft International, a sniper training program headquartered out of Texas with training sites in both Arizona and Texas. He also becomes involved in veteran affairs. Inspired by former teammate Marcus Luttrell, who founded the Lone Survivor Foundation, Kyle works with wounded warriors, getting them out of the hospital and into situations where they can enjoy themselves. As Kyle embarks on this new chapter in his life, he spends more time with his family and bonds with his children. For the first time, Kyle no longer defines himself first and foremost as a SEAL, but as a father and husband. At this point in Kyle’s life, his priorities “God, Country, Family” seem to be restructured to “God, Family, Country”. On February 2nd, 2013, Kyle along with his friend and neighbor Chad Littlefield took Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to a rifle range in Glen Rose, Texas as part of a therapeutic outing. Routh shot Kyle and Littlefield killing them both. On February 24th, 2015, Routh was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Chief Petty Officer Christopher Scott Kyle was credited with 160 confirmed kills and awarded one Silver Star Medal and four Bronze Star Medals for his acts of heroism and valor.