By Josh Gagnier We are not special and we are not...
Chris Kyle: Rest In Peace, American Sniper
“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” -Heraclitus.
By all accounts, Chris Kyle was a warrior.
Born in 1974 in a town known for its dedication to football, Chris chose to use his physical and athletic ability for…rodeo riding. However, after healing from an injury, he joined the Navy and entered BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school).
After graduating the course, Kyle was assigned to SEAL Team 3 where he would serve as a sniper during four tours in Iraq, taking part in nearly every major battle during the war. It was in the role of sniper that Chris thrived and, eventually, made a name for himself as the most successful and accomplished at his trade of anyone in our country’s history. In fact, he did his job so well that the enemy gave him a name: Al-Shaitan Ramad–the Devil of Ramadi.
In his book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, Kyle details his time in Iraq and the work that made him a legend.From his shooting of a woman preparing to throw a grenade at a group of Marines to his longest shot–the taking out of an insurgent with a rocket launcher from 2,100 yards–are all part of the stories of a man who used his skill set to provide a demonstrably superior overwatch to his brothers. During this time he was also apparently shot twice and hit by numerous IEDs.
After leaving the Navy in 2009, Chris became a household name after his book was published and he was thrust regularly into the limelight; even appearing on the often-mocked television series Stars Earn Stripes, where Chris teamed up with celebrities in order to train them like “special operators.” While many of us laughed at the show, it wasn’t due to the military personnel involved. They did a fantastic job of showing the professionalism that brought them to that level and, deep down, there were probably several other operators out there wishing that it was them on TV embarrassing celebrities and making them cry due to their lack of grit.
Kyle also became heavily involved with helping other Veterans who were suffering from PTSD or other disabilities through training, mentoring, and offering whatever services he could. His work with the Heroes Project, providing numerous services to both wounded Vets and their families, showed clearly that Chris was not walking away from service to his country when he left the Navy, but rather transitioning into a different role–one of advocate, mentor, and family man.
On February 2, 2013, Chris was at a shooting range with his friend Chad Littlefield when a man, for what are still unknown reasons, shot and killed both of them. After a police chase lasting most of the rest of that day, the man was taken into custody where he is now.
I am not going to spend time here speculating on the why or how of Chris Kyle’s death; most of the details are somewhat sketchy at this time and to speculate on several of the questions would be simply that–speculation. However, I can speak on behalf of the Ranger Up and Rhino Den nation when I say that we are greatly saddened by such a quick end to the life of a warrior who did so much–and was continuing to do more–for his country. While there are still men and women serving in our Nation’s theaters of war and sacrificing daily, Kyle put a face on that sacrifice for many by reaching out when he could have stayed home; he stepped up and volunteered for more even after doing all that he had done. Not a single soul in this country would have faulted him for living out the rest of his days in a cabin in the woods after leaving the service, but that wasn’t enough for Kyle; he wanted to continue serving, and for that he is a true hero and a true warrior.
Think carefully on the life of a man like this, especially today. As it is Super Bowl Sunday, many Americans will sit intently in front of their television sets nearly worshiping the men on the football field. Remember well that true heroes do not wear cleats and bring down multi-million dollar contracts. They don’t go on strike saying that the millions are “not enough.” True heroes are the ones in the real arena; the one where mistakes cost lives not touchdowns. Chris Kyle not only entered that arena, but he thrived in it, excelled in it, and brought others home because of his dedication to his craft. Again, that is a true warrior.
As of this moment, I am unsure of whether or not there is a charity set up for Chris’ family, so if there is, please do let us know in the comment section. Until that time, I’m certain that Chris would have been honored to have donations made to The Heroes Project on behalf of him, as he worked so diligently to further that cause.
We will update with whatever information we can as it becomes available to us.
Rest in Peace, Chris Kyle, and thank you for your service. You are not forgotten.