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Chris Kyle
Kyle, Christopher Scott (1974–2013).jpg
Birth name Christopher Scott Kyle
Nickname(s) "The Legend", "Devil of Ramadi", "Tex", "American Sniper"
Born (1974-04-08)April 8, 1974
Odessa, Texas, U.S.
Died February 2, 2013(2013-02-02) (aged 38)
Erath County, Texas, U.S.
Texas State Cemetery
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1999–2009
Rank Chief Petty Officer
(Rating: Special Warfare Operator, formerly Intelligence Specialist)
Unit SEAL Team 3
Battles/wars Iraq War
  • 2003 invasion of Iraq
    • Battle of Al Faw
    • Battle of Nasiriyah
  • Second Battle of Fallujah
  • Second Battle of Ramadi
  • Iraq spring fighting of 2008
    • Siege of Sadr City
Taya Kyle
(m. 2002)
Children 2
Other work
  • American Sniper (2012)
  • American Gun (2013)
Signature Chris Kyle Signature.png

Christopher Scott Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013) was a United States Navy SEAL sniper. He served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He had 160 confirmed kills and was awarded the Silver Star, three Bronze Star Medals with "V" devices for valor, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with "V" device, as well as numerous other unit and personal awards.

Early life and education

Christopher Scott Kyle was born on April 8, 1974, in Odessa, Texas, the eldest of two boys born to Deborah Lynn (née Mercer) and Wayne Kenneth Kyle, a Sunday school teacher and deacon. His father bought Kyle his first rifle at the age of eight, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun, with which they hunted deer, pheasant, and quail. Kyle and his brother grew up raising up to 150 head of cattle at a time. Kyle attended high school in Midlothian, Texas, and after graduating in 1992, became a professional bronco rider and ranch hand, however his professional rodeo career ended abruptly when he severely injured his arm. He attended Tarleton State University for two years (1992–1994), studying Ranch and Range Management.

Military career

Chris Kyle and Kevin Lacz at a SEAL Team 3 awards ceremony in Coronado, CA, on October 7, 2007

Kyle went to a military recruiting office, as he was interested in joining the U.S. Marine Corps special operations. A U.S. Navy recruiter convinced him to try instead for the SEALs. He enlisted in the United States Navy on August 5, 1998, and began basic training on February 10, 1999. He graduated from basic training at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, in April 1999. He attended additional training as an Intelligence Specialist at NMITC Dam Neck, Virginia, from April to July 1999, and at NPC Millington, Tennessee, from August 1999 to March 2000. Initially, Kyle was rejected because of the pins in his arm, but he eventually received an invitation to the 24-week Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) training (BUD/S) at NAB Coronado, California. Kyle graduated with Class 233 in March 2001, followed by SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) at NAB Coronado from May to August 2001.

Assigned to SEAL Team-3, sniper element, Platoon "Charlie" (later "Cadillac"), within the Naval Special Warfare Command, and with four tours of duty, Kyle served in many major battles of the Iraq War.

Military sniper

Kyle proved to be an effective sniper in Iraq, with a large number of confirmed and unconfirmed kills. Kyle's shooter's statements (filled out by every sniper after a mission) were reported to higher command, who kept them in case any shootings were contested as outside the rules of engagement. The publisher HarperCollins states: "The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyle's kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the total number for this book." In his autobiography, Kyle wrote:

The Navy credits me with more kills as a sniper than any other American service member, past or present. I guess that's true. They go back and forth on what the number is. One week, it's 160 (the 'official' number as of this writing, for what that's worth), then it's way higher, then it's somewhere in between. If you want a number, ask the Navy—you may even get the truth if you catch them on the right day.

On July 8, 2016, the U.S. Navy corrected Kyle's DD Form 214 regarding some decorations listed on his original discharge document. The original discharge papers issued to him upon leaving the service tally with the account given in his autobiography: two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with valor. The Navy revised it to one Silver Star and four Bronze Stars with valor. The Navy said "Kyle would have played no role in the production of his personnel files other than signing the DD-214 upon his discharge" and "[a]fter thoroughly reviewing all available records, the Navy determined an error was made" and "issued a corrected copy of the DD-214".


While in training, Kyle used four different rifles in order to know which weapon was the most useful in the given situation. In the field, he used the following:

  • a semi-automatic 7.62 NATO Mk 11 sniper rifle (patrol),
  • a 5.56 NATO Mk 12 Designated Marksman Rifle modified with the lower receiver of an M4A1 to get a collapsible stock and allow full-auto fire (urban patrol),
  • a Remington 700/300, Later type classified as a MK13 Mod 1, .300 Winchester Magnum sniper rifle with McMillan stock and customized barrel, which was later replaced with a .300 Winchester Magnum Accuracy International,
  • Various rifles chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum used for long-range shooting.

Post-military life

Chris Kyle at Camp Pendleton
Kyle and his wife Taya in January 2012, signing autographs for his book American Sniper at Camp Pendleton
Taya Kyle 1
Taya Kyle in August 2013

Kyle left the U.S. Navy in 2009, and moved to Midlothian, Texas, with his wife, Taya, and two children. He was president of Craft International, a tactical training company for the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.

In 2012, HarperCollins released Kyle's autobiography, American Sniper. Kyle had initially hesitated to write the book but was persuaded to move forward because other books about SEALs were under way.

American Sniper had a 37-week run on The New York Times bestseller list and brought Kyle national attention. Following its release, media articles challenged some of Kyle's anecdotes, but the core of his narrative was widely accepted. "Tales of his heroism on the battlefield were already lore in every branch of the armed forces", writes Michael J. Mooney, author of a biography of Kyle.

Kyle paired with FITCO Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization that created the Heroes Project to provide free in-home fitness equipment, individualized programs, personal training, and life-coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families, or those with PTSD. On August 13, 2012, Kyle appeared on the reality television show Stars Earn Stripes, which featured celebrities pairing up with a Special Operations or law enforcement professional who trained them in weapons and combat tactics. Kyle was teamed with actor Dean Cain.


Chris Kyle Memorial in Odessa, Texas

On February 2, 2013, Kyle was murdered by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas. Routh, a former Marine was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

A memorial service was held for Kyle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on February 11, and he was buried on February 12, 2013, at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, after the funeral cortege journeyed from Midlothian to Austin, more than 200 miles (320 km). Hundreds of people, many waving American flags, lined Interstate 35 to view the passing procession and to pay their final respects to Kyle.


Signing of Texas Chris Kyle Bill
The signing of the "Chris Kyle Bill" at the Texas State Capitol in August 2013
Chris Kyle tombstone
Kyle's tombstone at the Texas State Cemetery in August 2018

The Chris Kyle Memorial Highway Bill was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 3, 2015, in Dallas, Texas. The law became official September 1, 2015. On February 16, 2016, signs for the 11 mile stretch of Highway 287 through Midlothian, Texas, were unveiled. A subsequent bill was passed in 2018 to name a plaza and road after Chris Kyle in the town where he was raised, Midlothian, Texas.

Clint Eastwood's film American Sniper (2014) is based on Kyle's autobiography. Kyle is portrayed by Bradley Cooper, and his wife Taya Kyle is portrayed by Sienna Miller. For his portrayal of Kyle, Cooper received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and the film was nominated in five other categories, including Best Picture. The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

On February 2, 2015, exactly two years after Kyle's murder, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the day "Chris Kyle Day".

A privately-funded memorial for Kyle, built in Odessa, Texas, was unveiled on July 28, 2016. It includes a plaza and a bronze statue.

Awards and decorations

The Navy revised Chris Kyle's list of awards on June 14, 2016.

United States Navy Special Warfare insignia.png
"V" device, brass.svg 1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg "V" device, brass.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia-redone.png
Badge SEAL Insignia
1st Row Silver Star Bronze Star Medal w/ Combat V and 3 Gold 5/16 inch stars
2nd Row Navy and Marine Corps Commendation w/ Combat V Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/ Combat V Combat Action Ribbon w/ 1 Gold 5/16 inch star
3rd Row Navy Presidential Unit Citation Joint Meritorious Unit Award Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon
4th Row Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Navy Good Conduct Medal Ribbon w/ 1 Bronze 3/16 inch star National Defense Service Medal Ribbon
5th Row Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 2 Bronze 3/16 inch Star Iraq Campaign Medal Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
6th Row Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Expert Rifleman Ribbon w/ Silver E Device Navy Expert Pistol Medal w/ Silver E Device
Badge Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Chris Kyle para niños

  • List of snipers
  • Longest recorded sniper kills
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