On Groundhogs Day 2013, one of the most famous military marksmen in US history was killed. Chris Kyle, Navy Seal sniper, author, and activist, was shot to death at a shooting range in his home state of Texas in an action that does not appear to be an accident.
Who Was Chris Kyle
Born in 1974 in Odessa, Texas, Chris Kyle grew up with guns. In his bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, he details hunting and being a sportsman. After a stint as a cowboy and bronco rider on the rodeo circuit left him with pins in his arm, he tried to join first the Marines, then the Army, and finally was taken (on his second try) in the Navy at age 25.
In his ten years of service in the USN, he passed BUD(S) School (a feat that only about 15% who try can say). After that, he spent his time in the Naval Special Warfare community assigned to Seal teams. While many of his exploits are still classified, what is public information is that he spent four tours in Iraq where he participated in every major battle of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He came away with two silver stars, five bronze stars (with combat 'V'), and was wounded twice. He accounted for no less than 160 confirmed kills as a Seal sniper during his service.
(AP Photo, ABC news)
Killed while helping veteran
After leaving the military, Kyle had founded a nonprofit, FITCO Cares, that worked with emotionally and physically wounded veterans. He also spoke and got personally involved in helping these men and women. One of these, Marine Eddie Ray Routh, a combat veteran possibly with PTSD, Kyle and a friend took to the shooting range to relax. While we may never know exactly what happened that the range Saturday Feb 2, 2013, authorities found both Kyle, 38, and his friend, 35-year old Chad Littlefiled, shot dead at the range and later apprehended Routh in Kyle's stolen pickup truck.
Routh is being charged currently with two counts of murder and is held on a $3 million bond.
A murder turned political
In an odd bit of left vs. right politics, within hours of Chief Kyle's murder both sides began to weigh in on the issue immediately. Twitchy.com reported that Mother Earth magazine editor Clara Jeffery tweeted (at 4AM) that "So much for a good/talented guy with a gun being able to stop a mentally ill guy with a gun." This comment and others from Ms. Jeffery brought a series of counterattacks from twitter uses that found her comments inappropriate. Others tweeted their own comments of how they considered Kyle's death to be 'poetic justice' and 'karma'.
On the right, Sara Palin came out and posted, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle tonight," in a statement posted on her Facebook page. These sentiments were echoed across the country.
Similar Assassinations in history
In retort to the comments made by the Mother Earth editor, even the best of gunfighters are struck down when attacked unexpectedly. Some of the best shootists in modern history were shot in the back. James Butler Hickok, remembered by history as "Wild Bill" was a soldier, scout, and lawman who survived the Civil War and numerous shootouts, was like Kyle shot while unprepared. While playing poker in the Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, Jack McCall walked in and shot Hickok in the back of the head without warning. Former soldier (Confederate guerrilla) turned outlaw Jesse James was shot in the back in his own home by a man he considered a friend, Bob Ford.
History will no doubt remember Eddie Ray Routh as a modern day Bob Ford or Jack McCall.
Nevertheless, let us not forget Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Chris Kyle.
Rest in peace Chief Kyle.
Added 2/6/12 :
Chris Kyle Memorial Service
Date: Monday, February 11, 2013
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Cowboy Stadium, Arlington, Texas