The dude was a badass. And not just any badass. A bonified badass. A badass that had all the clippings, ribbons and medals to prove it. A special badass. A badass that saved lives. A conquering badass.
Chris Kyle is dead. Murdered by the hands of a disturbed coward. Gone from this life at a much too young 38 years. Forever estranged from his lovely wife and two kids that meant more to him than any title of gallant and demigod combatant.
Chris Kyle leaves the present and now glides into the afterlife as a true American hero. If the Pearly Gates need a sentry to stand watch, they now have their man. A real spirit of strength. I already miss him.
Chris Kyle was a rare combination of drive, guts and fearlessness wrapped in an elevated and epic package. He is a member ( and yes, I meant to say this in the present tense) of the elite special forces fraternity known as SEALs. Less than 1% of our armed forces personnel can claim that title. To do so you must be an expert at being an expert. The training is worst than brutal. The missions are impossible. The accolades are shrouded by mystery. You must be insanely in-shape and possess the heart of a lion. The training tests weed out even more of the prowess powered. Yes indeed, becoming and maintaining a SEAL status is monumental. Think of a collection of Babe Ruth’s, Ken Griffey Jr’s, Lawrence Taylor’s and Michael Jordan’s. You must be a sharp, skilled and savvy warrior. Chris Kyle not only met the qualifications, he rose to the top. He is among the greatest combat soldiers this country has ever produced. A maven below the water, high in the sky and tenacious on dirt. As states the term SEAL: sea-air-land.
It must be unveiled that Chris Kyle was scared of water and deathly afraid of heights. Yet his missions meant miles and miles of ocean time and countless jumps from airplanes. And sometimes it meant exiting a plane at ridiculous heights and landing in water 10 miles from nearest shore. Usually in the pitch dark. Like I said, a slick virtuoso of guts and guile.
For over 10 years Chris Kyle protected you and I. He executed tireless trips inside the hell of war. His work allowed our fighting men a clear path to enter the combat zones. His sniper work ranked as the best ever in military history. He chronicles his handy work with a rifle in his best selling book “American Sniper”. His tally of confirmed kills is mind-boggling. I will not write the number of kills he’s credited because he spoke of them only once. In his book. And never again. He didn’t want to talk specifics, so I will honor him by not giving the number. But this digit can be found with a simple google search. He wasn’t especially proud of this number, only owning to the fact that it saved thousands of Army and Marine lives.
He so loved his country. And was willing to lay his life on the line to ensure you and I could exist in a free country. He knew that freedom was anything but free. And the lengths he assembled to protect this mostly taken for granted notion was great. Yet he fought his way to the depths of Hades. Never once complaining. Never once hesitating. And the only thing he asked in return was another trip back so he could save more lives. His belief wasn’t the lives he took, only the amount he saved.
And he wanted more, even as he stepped into the civilian world. It wasn’t the three times he was shot. Or the 10 times he was blown up with IED’s. Or a bout with pneumonia, where he didn’t miss a day of work. Or the fact that his knees were beyond repair. Or the hidden fact that his back was so wretched that he needed four surgeries just to align properly. He never talked of the scars of battle. To him it was an obligation to the oath he took. And took seriously. And in the end it wasn’t the wages of war that took him away. Or the numerous wounds. It was a 105 pound woman. Chris Kyle knew that this element was unbeatable.
Taya was his love. She was his salvation. She was his life. She was his rock. She was also tough. And after 10 years of constant battles, she issued a firm ultimatum. He had two choices: Navy SEALs or his marriage. The words had no more exited her lips as did Chris Kyle submit his retirement papers. Choosing between the two wasn’t difficult. Nothing meant more to him than his family. He had dodged the fickle fate of war and now he was coming home. For good. He had no idea what he would do next, only knowing that it would include his family. There was never a doubt. He indicated many times that he would succeed because of his family. He could now be a full time father to his two precious kids. Trips in the kiddie carpool. PTA meetings. Assembling toys. The whole daddy/husband thing. And he couldn’t wait to enter this new phase. He told me numerous times that war and battle were easy. Taking on the daily task of family life scared him greatly. But he was ready for the challenge.
And then Saturday, February 3, 2013 rolled upon him. It was an unfair segment. One he didn’t see coming. For only a handful of times in his brief life, he let his guard down. And it was as he predicted. It was the mask of death he had so defeated. In the end it was his philanthropic manners that he couldn’t overcome.
Chris Kyle loved the military. Loved to the degree that he felt he owed his military brethren. He must give back. And it was this notion that doomed him.
Chris Kyle was active in the “Wounded Warrior Project”. He donated thousand of hours of his personal time to the cause. And he was especially drawn to the vets who experienced post traumatic syndrome. He knew he could make a difference. He worked at it. He toiled to cure them and allow them to be productive citizens. He took to a hands-on approach. Who knew that a man suffering from this disorder would play a part in ending the life of a man that had cheated death on an epic level.
I talked to Chris Kyle as we FAN folks made our way back to Dallas from the Super Bowl. He jostled to me the fact that we had had “way too much fun”. We made dinner plans for later this week. He said I was one of few people that could make him laugh. I was privileged to know Chris Kyle the civilian, not Chris Kyle the American hero. He told me to knock off the “hero gibberish” I lauded him on air. He often played around and said, “don’t make me kick your ass”. I was pretty sure he didn’t mean that. But just to make sure, I shelved the moniker of “hero”. Until now.
While helping a fellow vet with PTS he died. Shot point blank in the head. Then in the back. He never saw it coming. The coward had killed an American icon. Chris Kyle was dead. A man that had given so much was cut down by one of his own. Taken from his wife. Taken from his two kids. Taken from his adoring public. Gone from the legions of readers that was escorted thru his story via the written word. Gone. Gone forever. No saying good-bye. No heroic exit.
At the risk of getting my ass whipped from the afterlife I say this. Chris Kyle IS a hero. Chris Kyle paid the price for our freedom. Chris Kyle fought evil. Chris Kyle loved his country. Chris Kyle walked away because of his family that he so loved. Chris Kyle made a difference.
Through watery eyes I write this. I love Chris Kyle. Chris Kyle touched me. Chris Kyle made me believe. Chris Kyle brought me to tears. Chris Kyle is a hero to all of us.
Somewhere Chris Kyle is embarrassed. All that is being written, all that is being said. He is uncomfortable with praise. As he told me many times, “I’m just a regular guy that did a job. I’m not special”. He would loathe the attention he is receiving. Hate that he is being elevated.
I’m sorry Chris Kyle. You deserve it. You earned it. And I’m sure that the hero talk is only beginning. It’s your legacy. It’s the respect that you are owed.
Rest in peace Chris Kyle. You contributed. You were singular. Your mission, although short, was accomplished. Everyone knows the Chris Kyle story. You will me missed.
And at the risk of an ass whipping, I proudly proclaim…….
CHRIS KYLE, AMERICAN HERO!!
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