As a Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyle served his country with distinction in some of the worst places and situations imaginable. Most Americans will never know what it’s like to leave the comforts of home for the hot streets of Iraq where everyone is trying to kill you and your friends, and life or death decisions are forced to be made in an instant.
“To those that knew him, he kept most his awards in a shoebox, he didn’t really care about his awards, he cared about helping fellow veterans.”, a friend, who requested we not use his name, told SOFREP during a recent phone call.
Chris was murdered by a mentally ill 25 year-old USMC veteran Eddie Routh in 2013; while volunteering to help, what he likely saw as, a fellow veteran in need.
The SEAL community has been thrust onto center stage, especially since the Obama administration held a SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU) dog and pony show after Red Squadron killed America’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, in Pakistan. To be fair, the Navy and WARCOM (the parent SEAL command) have contributed to the process by participating in officially sanctioned projects like “Act of Valor” and Sony’s video game “SOCOM US Navy SEALs” to name only a few.
The popularity of the modern SEAL Teams in American culture has created a TMZ effect, where suddenly, traditional hard news outlets (e.g. The Post, Times, etc..) are forced to dip their toes in the drama pond for fear of becoming irrelevant in the modern digital age, where a sixteen year-old on Instagram can steal a headline. News outlet Editors are under pressure to drive page views, and/or advertising revenue.
The Intercept recently claimed a dead American Navy SEAL hero embellished his war record. Since Chris isn’t here to defend himself, I’ll try and point out what I know to be fundamentally true about his service. The facts.
- He volunteered to serve in the military
- He graduated one of the toughest military training programs around (BUD/S)
- Was a SEAL sniper and used this skill when he deployed to Iraq multiple times
- Kyle was awarded multiple awards for his combat deployments, including the Silver Star.
- He ultimately left the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer to be with his family
The military awards system is slow, and record keeping can be extremely challenging for administrative personnel, especially when units and Warfighters are moving back and forth from the front lines so frequently since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have created a global battlefield in the war of terror.
Chris told his story to two co-writers, who penned his famous memoir, American Sniper, for him. The writers referenced Chris’s DD214 for his official medal count and SOFREP confirmed with co-author Scott McEwen, that at no point in the publication review process did anyone, including Naval Special Warfare and the Department of Defense (Both reviewed and cleared the book for official publication), challenge his medal count.
“I served with Chris at SEAL Team 3, he was respected and loved by all who served with him. He didn’t care about awards or recognition, what he cared about was his family, teammates, and serving his country.”
-Mike Ritland, former Navy SEAL, K-9 trainer, and owner of Trikos International
The Intercept is quick to judge a dead hero on distorting fact, when in reality it looks like a simple discrepancy between his DD214 discharge document, and the Navy Awards System database. That such a discrepancy existed would come as no surprise to anyone who’s served in the military.
My parents, and mentors taught me one thing. You stand by and stick up for your friends in good times and bad. You also judge a man by his repeated actions over time.
If you look at Chris’s life as a whole you’ll find a Texas cowboy, a Navy SEAL, an American hero who loved his country, a loving husband, father, son, and brother. A good friend, and a man who cared little about awards, and a man who gave his life helping a fellow veteran struggling with his own demons.