After surviving four tours in Iraq, Chris Kyle earned a reputation as one of America’s deadliest military snipers. He was discharged honorably with two silver stars, five bronze stars with valor, a Grateful Nation Award, and one Navy and Marine Corps commendation. He returned home to become a New York Times bestselling author of the book American Sniper and a mentor to other veterans. After leaving the Navy he became an advocate for veterans mental health and established the nonprofit FITCO Cares, a place where Kyle was able to help others with their own struggles.
But on Saturday, in Texas, far from the war zone of Iraq, Chris Kyle and his neighbor Chad Littlefield went with former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who was reportedly suffering from PTSD, to a gun range, which was considered a form of therapy. At the gun range Routh turned on Kyle and Littlefield according to law enforcement officials. Routh allegedly shot and killed both men with a semiautomatic handgun and then fled the scene in Kyle’s pickup truck.
Last February Chris Kyle joined the Dylan Ratigan Show to discuss his bestselling book and his commitment to his fellow servicemen. During this interview Kyle pointed out how his story is not just about him, but also captures the story of all combat veterans from the battlefield to what is happening at home and raises awareness of what the troops are going through.
Kyle said, “A lot of the guys have been in the same situation I have been in, like I said nothing unique to me, these guys are reading books they feel validated with some of things because I am putting it out there they are recognizing the different situations that they were in that went along with my stories.”
Kyle didn’t see himself as a hero. He saw himself as man who went out into the battlefield to fight alongside his brothers and sisters and fight for what he believes. He said, “There were several different times where we thought this might be it, but that’s what you signed and you basically write a blank check up to this price of your life that you are willing to give to the country and when you are put in the situation you just fight as hard as you can and if you don’t then you are fighting for your country especially for your brother on the right and left of you.”
According to an The New York Times Travis Cox, a friend of Chris Kyle’s said “he served this country with extreme honor, but came home and was a servant leader in helping his brothers and sisters dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Everyone has their own inner struggles, but he was very proactive about the things he was dealing with.” That is exactly what he was trying to do on Saturday when he took Eddie Ray Routh to the shooting range, he was serving his country and helping another veteran combat with a mental illness upon returning from war.