Chris Kyle (born 1974) is a former United States Navy SEAL. He is the deadliest sniper in United States military history, with 160 confirmed kills (out of 255 claimed kills).
Chris Kyle hesitated the first time he killed a person at long range with a rifle. It was a woman who was about to attack a group of US Marines with a hand grenade.
The US Navy SEAL was overlooking an Iraqi town from a shabby building as US forces were still invading the country, before Saddam Hussein had been ousted. The Marines didn't see the woman coming.
'Take a shot,' Mr Kyle's chief told him.
Mr Kyle stammered: 'But...'
'Shoot!' the chief told him again.
When Mr Kyle finally pulled the trigger, the woman dropped the grenade. He shot her again as it exploded.
But after four deployments to Iraq, he learned to stop hesitating and start shooting straight.
With 255 kills, 160 of them officially confirmed by the Pentagon, the retired Navy Seal sniper is the deadliest marksman in US military history.
During the Second Battle of Fallujah alone, when US Marines fought running battles in the streets with several thousand insurgents, he killed 40 people.
His feat blows away the previous American record of 109, set by Army Staff Sgt. Adelbert F. Waldron during the Vietnam war.
Carlos Hathcock, the famed Marine sniper who was the subject of the book 'One Shot, One Kill,' killed 93 people as a long-range sniper in Vietnam.
Despite the incredible number, Mr Kyle is still far from being the deadliest marksman in the world. That distinction goes to Simo Häyhä, a Finnish soldier who killed 542 Soviet soldiers during World War II.
Mr Kyle is a cowboy from Odessa, Texas, who was a professional bronco rodeo rider before he joined the Navy. He grew up hunting deer and pheasant with a rifle and a shotgun his dad bought him.
He never realized he was a good shot until he joined the Navy and got into the prestigious SEAL special operations unit.
For his deadly track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named him 'Al-Shaitan Ramad' -- the Devil of Rahmadi -- and put a $20,000 bounty on his head.
'I thought to myself, “Oh, hell yeah!” It was an honor,' he told Texas Monthly magazine when Army intelligence told him about his infamy.
But his Navy SEAL companions gave him a different name 'the Legend.'
His most legendary shot came outside Sadr City in 2008 when he spotted an insurgent with a rocket launcher near an Army convoy -- 2,100 yards away.
At that distance, 1.2 miles, he fired a shot from his .338 Lapua Magnum rifle. It struck home, knocking the man over dead.
'God blew that bullet and hit him,' Mr Kyle told the New York Post.
Mr Kyle's preferred weapon, though, was a custom-built bolt action rifle with a powerful scope. It was chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum, a cartridge originally developed for hunting North American big game.
However, Mr Kyle said he has found a new use for it -- making long range, highly accurate shots.
|Grateful nation: |
Kyle receiving an award
from the Jewish Institute for
National Security Affairs
Mr Kyle, who retired from the Navy after 10 years of service, is telling his remarkable story as a deadly marksman in his new book, 'American Sniper,' which hits shelves Tuesday.
For his valor, he received three Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor, according to his book publisher, Harper Collins.
Additionally, he was shot twice and was in six separate IED explosions as his unit, Charlie company of SEAL Team Three, saw significant combat across the country.
The action was enough that the members of the unit adopted the white skull of the gun-wielding comic book vigilante The Punisher.
They painted the symbol on their body armor, their vehicles and even their weapons.
Despite the astonishing number of people he has shot, Mr Kyle says he has never second-guessed himself since the first time he had to pull the trigger on the grenade-wielding woman in Iraq.
For him, the enemy is a 'savage,' he told the Post.
'It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naive, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job,' he told Texas Monthly.
He left the service in 2009, deciding not to enlist in order to 'save his marriage' he told his publisher.
Mr Kyle has two children and lives in Dallas.
Since leaving the Navy, he has started his own military contracting firm, Craft International. It provides military and law enforcement sniper training, as well as private security and protection.
Born in Odessa, Texas, Kyle is the son of a Sunday school teacher and a deacon. His father bought him his first gun at 8 years old, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun, with which they hunted pheasant, quail, and deer.
After school, Kyle became a professional bronco rodeo rider, but his profession ended abruptly when he severely injured his arm. After his arm healed, he went to a military recruiting office, interested in joining the United States Marine Corps. The U.S. Marine Corps booth was closed because the recruiter was out at lunch. However, as he was leaving, the U.S. Navy recruiter called him over and talked about the Navy SEALS. Kyle was interested and signed up, but he did not pass the physical test, because of the pins in his arm. A little while later he received a call and he had the chance to go to BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school), finally joining the United States Navy in 1999.
Assigned to SEAL Team 3, Sniper Element Charlie platoon within the Naval Special Warfare Command, over four tours of duty Kyle served in every major battle of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
His first long-range kill shot was taken during the initial invasion, when he shot a woman approaching a group of US Marines with a hand grenade in her hand. As ordered, he opened fire, killing the woman before she could attack.
For his deadly track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named him Al-Shaitan Ramad (English The Devil of Rahmadi) and put an $80,000 bounty on his head.
In 2008 outside Sadr City, he made his longest successful shot, after he spotted an insurgent with a rocket launcher near a U.S. Army convoy at a range of 2,100 yards (1.2 mi). He fired a shot from his .338 Lapua Magnum rifle, killing the insurgent.
During four tours of duty in Iraq, Kyle was shot twice and caught up in six separate IED explosions.
Kyle left the US Navy in 2009, and moved to Mid-Texas with his wife and two children. He now runs Craft International, which provides military and law enforcement sniper training, as well as private security and protection.
In 2012, Harper Collins released Kyle's autobiographical book American Sniper. While promoting his book on the Opie and Anthony Radio Show, Kyle claimed to have knocked down former Governor of Minnesota and Underwater Demolition Team member Jesse Ventura with a punch to the nose at a popular Navy SEAL bar in Coronado, California in 2006 after, according to Kyle, Ventura had “badmouthed the troops” and said that the SEALs "deserved to lose a few guys". The alleged incident occurred during a wake for Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who served alongside Kyle who was killed in action in Iraq the same year. Ventura released a statement on his Facebook page calling Kyle’s claims completely false, denying he said anything derogatory about the troops, and also denying Kyle’s claim of punching him in the face or even having met Chris Kyle. Kyle said that two Navy SEALs have come forward with the story but no police report has ever existed. Jesse Ventura now plans to sue Chris Kyle for defamation in court.