I can’t believe it has already been a year. I racked my brain on how to best represent the legend of Chris Kyle and came up short. The best I thought to do is repost what I was feeling when this all came down upon us 12 short months ago.

As originally posted on SOFREP February 2013. 

This post was written by Eric Davis, who was Chris Kyle’s Sniper Instructor…and friend.

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

For times like this. Times when things don’t make any 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.

The WHY we HAD Chris we can answer and for that I’m deeply and forever grateful.

Navy SEAL’s have trained, operated, sacrificed and died in the shadows for many years now. “Quiet Professionals” has been their description for decades and is still their mantra to this day. Despite the publicity they receive SEALs seek no recognition, require no reward and could care less about what we think of them. They get the job done at all cost.

When I learned that we lost Chris I had 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 subsequent rise to fame as the deadliest Sniper on the planet came up.

We paused and reflected and thought how lucky we were 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 nation’s 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 to tell it as it is from the perspective of their instructor, teammate, friend and most of all, as one of their biggest fans.

These stories shaped me and an entire generation of modern day heroes

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 the best. 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 traveling to dangerous places with a willingness to never come home. These stories had me want to give my all at any cost.

As you read about Chris you’ll quickly begin to 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 a good old boy from Texas. A horse riding Cowboy that would carry your Grandma to church on his shoulders, stop a bully from picking on a weak kid, rope a runaway calf and change a flat tire. It would seem that he was an actual real Cowboy.

When generations asked “Where did all the real men go?” it would seem that almost on cue, fresh from a mission, Chris Kyle walked in. Sweaty, dirty, smoking gun in hand with a look of concern on his face Chris Kyle stepped into all of our lives and said not with words, but with actions “I’m right here”.

Texans

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 went to Sniper school so that he could better serve his country, community and no doubt Texas. Every time I worked with Chris I was learning as much 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 these guys with the funny accents and cowboy boots had. 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.

Why they write books

As more of our nation’s heroes tell their stories publicly, I’ve been disappointed to hear about people questioning their motives. 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 (me at 15) get the crazy notion that he could be a “Top-Secret Operative” and go after 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 when asked why he wrote the book: “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.