Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in American history. He had at least 160 confirmed kills by the Pentagon’s count, but by his own count—and the accounts of his Navy SEAL teammates—the number was closer to twice that. In his four tours of duty in Iraq, Kyle earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor. He survived six IED attacks, three gunshot wounds, two helicopter crashes, and more surgeries than he could remember. He was known among his SEAL brethren as The Legend and to his enemies as al-Shaitan, “the devil.” Chris Kyle owns the title to the world’s eighth-longest confirmed kill shot by a sniper.
He never cared to talk much about the number of confirmed kills he had. It’s likely considerably higher than what the Pentagon has released, but certain records could remain classified for decades. Besides, while the number garners a lot of attention, it doesn’t tell his story. He told people he wished he could somehow calculate the number of people he had saved. “That’s the number I’d care about,” he said. “I’d put that everywhere.”
While seeing his enemies die never gave him much pause, losing his friends devastated him.
He’d always liked hunting, but he hated fishing. Still, when he learned that his son liked to fish, he dedicated himself to becoming a great fisherman, so they could bond the way he did with his own dad.
Kyle’s life came to a tragic end on February 2, 2013, when he and a colleague, Chad Littlefield, were shot at a gun range outside of Forth Worth, Texas, by Eddie Ray Routh, an ex-Marine who had a long history of mental illness. Chris Kyle was 38 years old.
“Though we feel sadness and loss,” one of his former commanders said, “know this: legends never die. Chris Kyle is not gone. Chris Kyle is everywhere. He is the fabric of the freedom that blessed the people of this great nation. He is forever embodied in the strength and tenacity of the SEAL teams, where his courageous path will be followed and his memory is enshrined as SEALs continue to ruthlessly hunt down and destroy America’s enemies.”