Tonight I lost another HERO
Tonight I lost another INSPIRATION
Tonight I lost another LEGEND
Tonight I lost another bedtime STORY
Tonight I lost another BOOK TO READ TO MY SON
Tonight I lost another MOVIE TO TAKE MY KIDS TO
Tonight I lost another WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP
Tonight I lost another PERSON I CAN BRAG ABOUT KNOWING
Tonight I lost another COLLEAGUE
Tonight I lost another TEAM MATE
Tonight I lost another STUDENT
Tonight I lost another FRIEND
Tonight A FAMILY LOST THEIR EVERYTHING
Times like this. Times when things don’t make sense. We all tend to reflect, or at least ponder, on the what, who, when and how. But it’s the WHY that seems to elude us.
The WHY we LOST Chris can’t be answered now. It just has no answer in the moment and for that I’m deeply sorry.
The WHY we HAD Chris I can answer now, and for that I’m deeply, and forever grateful, for.
Navy SEALs have trained, operated, sacrificed and died in the shadows for many years now. “Quiet Professionals” has been their description for decades, and it is still their mantra to this day. They seek no recognition, require no reward and could care less about what we think of them. They get the job done at all cost.
Tonight when I learned that we had lost Chris, I was lucky enough to have my best friend and fellow Sniper Instructor, Brandon Webb, staying at my house. As we cracked beers and began to talk shit about Chris, the topic of his story and rise to fame as the deadliest Sniper on the planet, and in history, came up.
Brandon reminded me that Chris was my personal student and for that I should be proud. I paused and reflected and thought how lucky I was to have been in Chris’s life and to have contributed to the training that allowed him to shape the history books. As we were talking, Brandon began to share some of the challenges that our nations heroes, like Chris Kyle and Marcus Luttrell, face as they share the most intimate, painful and inspiring stories our nation has to offer. For this reason I had asked Brandon if I could take the “Floor” on behalf of these legends, and tell it like it is as I see it as their instructor, teammate, friend and most of all, as one of their biggest fans.
For me, I’m still that kid who grew up reading books and watching movies about Superheroes, Spies, and Special Forces. Kung fu was cool, Superman was pretty tough, but Rambo and the likes were God. These stories woke me up at 5:00am when I was in high school to run, bike and swim. These stories had me in Navy Boot Camp at the age of 17. These stories had me press through the most grueling training in the world. These stories had me leave my family for months on end and travel to dangerous places with a willingness to never come home. These stories had me want to give my all and drove others to give everything.
These stories shaped me and an entire generation of modern day heroes.
As you read about Chris you can quickly begin build up an impression of what type of person he was. Often times the impression we get from someone’s public persona can be very different from who they actually are. When you read about Chris it would seem that he was good old boy from Texas. Horse riding Cowboy that would carry your Grandma to church on his shoulders, stop a bully from picking on the weak kid, rope a runaway calf and change a flat tire. It would seem that he was an actual real Cowboy.
When generations ask “Where did all the real men go?,” it would seem that at that moment – almost on cue – fresh from a mission, Chris Kyle walked in sweaty and dirty, with a smoking gun in his hands, a look of concern on his face, ignoring the crowd staring at him with their jaws dropped to the floor, and simply asked “What’s for supper?”
I was blessed with the opportunity to have been Chris’s Sniper Instructor, and to get to know him as a person. Chris was an amazing student. A confident professional who was there so that he could better serve his country, community and no doubt Texas. Every time I worked with Chris I was learning as much or more from him as he was from me.
Being from California I wasn’t accustomed to working with actual “Rednecks.” To be honest, I always kind of poked fun at the stereotype; but I had no idea of the actual content and character of these guys with the funny accent and cowboy boots. Working with Chris I learned why young men played “Cowboys,” and why Hollywood produces Westerns. These guys are amazing men and spending time with them made me, and countless other SEALs, better Men.
My brother-in-law Chris Del Conte is the Athletic Director for Texas Christian University, and as a result I’ve had several opportunities to attend their games and meet a lot of “Texans.” I continue to be amazed by the Texan culture and amazing character of the people, and I can understand why they turn out heroes like Chris Kyle.
As more of our nation’s heroes tell their stories publicly, I’ve been disappointed to hear that there are people out there questioning their motives. This hasn’t made sense to me. These stories don’t belong to the authors who write them, nor do they belong to the critics who complain about them. These stories belong to America, and it is their duty to tell them. Where else would a freckled-face redhead get the crazy notion that he could be a “Top-Secret Operative” and go fight bad guys for a living?
I was reading about Chris before I wrote this and I noticed the following quote:
“As Kyle told The News in 2012 that he wrote American Sniper because “I wanted to be able to let people know about the sacrifices that not only people in the service make, but what their families go through. I knew this would give me a voice so I could speak about the guys I know who were killed. I wanted to get their story out and I wanted to raise awareness for veterans.”
So when Chris Kyle says he did something to help our Military and their families, then that’s why he did it. Like a true good ol’ boy from Texas, he said what he meant and meant what he said. Let’s not let his purpose and his mission get hijacked by all the opportunistic political commentary that is sure to come. Chris was helping veterans like he said was going to do, and that’s that.
So the Chris Kyle that you read about in books, watch on interviews, and will be reading about for years to come is not some made up public persona. The Chris Kyle that some 12 year-old kid is reading about, who believes in heroes and wants to be one someday, is who Chris Kyle really was. Chris is still telling it like he sees it – No Bull Shit.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Star-Telegram)