The Last Ride of the Devil of Ramadi: Sniper Chris Kyle’s Final Mission

A Texas town is in disbelief and mourning as a local hero apparently falls victim to a troubled ex-marine he was trying to help

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Paul Moseley / Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT / Getty Images

The late Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL sniper.

To his enemies, he was the “Devil of Ramadi,” an unseen terror who harried insurgents with his rifle during Operation Iraqi Freedom, often from an impossible remove. He served four tours of duty. He was credited with some 160 confirmed kills. He was awarded two Purple Hearts. He played a role in every major engagement in the Iraq war. To the 18,000 folks of Midlothian, Texas, a blue collar town just south of Dallas, Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, 38, was invincible, revered, a local boy, a hero who’d seen and done things they couldn’t imagine, and who then came back home to live among them again and to watch his children grow.

Kyle was a presence in Midlothian. And so was his truck, a souped-up honey that was unmistakable on the streets of the town — a black Ford F-350 with black rims, black window tint, huge knobby mud tires and an aftermarket grill guard befitting an armored riot vehicle. On Saturday, he rode it one last time.

A teacher’s aide at an elementary school just a mile from Kyle’s home had asked him to reach out to her son. Jodi Routh saw her son, an ex-marine, struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder and believed the war hero could help. And so some time on Saturday afternoon, Kyle and his buddy Chad Littlefield picked up Eddie Ray Routh, a tall and wiry 25-year-old, at his home in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster.

(MORE: Chris Kyle’s Alleged Killer)

They would have driven down Highway 67 through Midlothian, past the Holcim cement kiln, with its smokestacks reaching hundreds of feet into the air like spires, and past the Gerdau steel mill, where rust-colored smoke dissipates into a pall over laboring excavators and mounds of scrap metal.

They left behind the flatlands and crossed west over the Brazos River, into that dry, rocky country, all low, cedar-scrub hills, post oak and cactus. A little after 3 p.m., according to court papers, they would have pulled through the sandstone-and-iron gate of Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, a tony, 11,000-acre (4,450 hectare) hunting preserve and conference center, where Fort Worth socialites, business types and politicians pay handsomely to bag bobcat, coyote, white-tailed deer, wild hog or pheasant in the hills and river bottoms. Kyle, Littlefield and Routh took a narrow, 3-mile (4.8 km) asphalt road to the lodge and let Rough Creek hand Frank Alvarez know they were headed to the firing range.

Kyle was a familiar sight; he’d begun hosting training camps at the lodge, giving civilians three-day crash courses in combat. It would have been another mile and a half (2.4 km) down a dirt road to the firing range, where Kyle had been known to fire Browning M2 machine guns into targets. It wasn’t long after they arrived when, authorities believe, Routh turned his semiautomatic pistol on Kyle and Littlefield. Routh then took Kyle’s truck and fled Rough Creek.

(VIDEO: 10 Questions with American Sniper, Chris Kyle)

By 4:50 p.m., employee Justin Nabours found the bodies, crumpled on the ground and covered in blood. He radioed the lodge for help, called 911 and started CPR.

Routh headed east on Highway 67 and stopped off at a friend’s house in nearby Alvarado. He placed a call to his sister Laura Blevins and asked to speak to her husband Gaines. At around 5:45 p.m., Routh arrived at their house in Midlothian, according to court papers. Routh was “out of his mind,” his sister said. He told them he “traded his soul for a new truck,” that he’d just murdered two people “before they could kill him” and that “people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs.”

His sister told him he needed to turn himself in. At nearly 8 p.m., Routh arrived at the home he shared with his parents in Lancaster on Sixth Street. The police were already waiting. They tried to talk him down but Routh tore off in Kyle’s Ford, through Lancaster, through Dallas. With that truck, he peeled back the hood of a squad car as though it were curled tin. The impact drove the truck’s step bar into the oil pan, dislodging it. The Ford finally gave out when the motor burned up in the northbound lane of Interstate 35, near the Wheatland Road exit in Dallas. Routh was arrested on suspicion of two counts of capital murder.

The measure of Midlothian’s grief can be seen in its response to Kyle’s death. Midlothian cops pull guard duty at his home in a neighborhood of immaculate lawns and brick homes day and night. They watch over the Midlothian Funeral Home, where his body lies for now. They watch over Littlefield’s home and warn reporters away.

(MORE: Chris Kyle, Author and Former Navy SEAL Sniper, Dies at 38)

Good-looking, thickly muscled and affable, Kyle was a memorable figure to everybody around town. To Robert Cunningham, he was the boy who slung sacks of deer corn into the back of Cunningham’s pickup at Kyle’s father’s store, 4-K Feed. To Bob Price, he was the young man who rode saddle broncs with his son at a practice arena in Mansfield. Or did, anyway, until Price’s boy broke his neck, which was right around the time Kyle broke his arm. Both recovered. To Dennis DeWeerde, proprietor of Ellis County BBQ, he was a friend and an unfailingly gracious customer who brought his family in for lunch after Sunday services. A banner draped across the front of the restaurant bears the Punisher-style skull that was the logo of Kyle’s combat-training consultancy, Craft International, with the words, “Rest In Peace Chris Kyle/ Gone But Never Forgotten.”

There was talk of a memorial service. The only problem was, they didn’t think there was a building in Midlothian big enough to hold everyone who loved and admired him. So, they’re all going to gather on Monday in Arlington’s Cowboy Stadium, to say goodbye to the bronc-busting soldier who fought in hell on earth, a world away, only to die at home after his war had ended.

MORE: Don’t Rush to Judgment on Ex-Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s Killing

80 comments
GypMahoney
GypMahoney

May Eddie Ray Routh,  a coward and punk.. BURN IN HELL FOREVER

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BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

This man picked up the burden, most of you now vilifying him, are too cowardly to even attempt to pick up. Here you are pretending this world would be safe for people like you, sitting in front of your computers mindlessly chattering away like caged birds, if it were not for men and women like him actually doing the work you are too weak willed to attempt, much less do. You talk as if you are so morally superior, when in reality you just don't have the courage to do what it takes to defend civil society. You "people" make me sick.

TomCzerniawski
TomCzerniawski

Fascinating... for killing 160 people, Chris Kyle is a hero.

And you Americans wonder why you have so many mass murderers...

Leetut
Leetut

Respect to the guy....

But the rest of you Jesus nut gun loving whackomericans need to shake your heads, your constitution is a joke, I'm so glad my uk government dont allow guns and I'm still free

marina56
marina56

A lot of nastiness here. Let me say this - I'm a flaming liberal. That being said, the people responsible for war and what happens there are those who give the orders, and those who benefit from the orders, not the soldiers. A sniper's job is like the job of any other soldier - kill *them* before they kill *our guys*.

In short, I'm ashamed to belong to the same species as anyone who says that this man (not a hero, not a villain, just a man) deserved to die.

peters2010
peters2010

I THINK NO SNIPER IS FORCED AT THE POINT OF GUN TO BECOME SNIPER...THAT'S WHAT THEY LOVE....AND AS I SAID ...

KJV.......he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.......


peters2010
peters2010

sorry for him...but even if it is your job, one day thinks you do ,will come back AND HUNT YOU DOWN..."those who raise the sword must die by THE sword"...said GOD

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@BobSheepleherder you talk like a tough guy........not too intelligent if you believe Kyle did anyone a favor by what he did in Iraq, a country that did America no harm and a country America invaded on false pretense........Kyle was not supposed to be in Iraq.......he fell for Bushs lies even after it was proven......he was not defending a civil society........its not about being tough and you cant be courageous in a evil war you started........Kyle was all about unnecessary violence........just look at his picture.....like you, trying to be a tough guy, surrounding himself with tokens of violence and his big-bad weapon, camouflaged, the photos, and even his black platium ring.......wow, isnt he bad........

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@TomCzerniawski No, we wonder why we bother to help the ungrateful beggars from around the world who are happy to take our largess while they vilify us.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@Leetut You are "free" because us whackomericans made you free. You don't need to thank us, our Constitution makes us better than you.

SudeepKanjilal
SudeepKanjilal

@marina56 I COMPLETELY agree. He was a soldier, he was doing his job, and he was defending America in the battlefield. 

I sincerely don't understand the people who are criticizing this guy, especially if they are Americans. I am an Indian, and will ALWAYS stand behind an Indian soldier if he has  ot broken any laws. And I consider myself a liberal!


We may believe Iraq war was not the right war, that Bush lied to get the war for political purpose (I certainly do). BUT, that has got nothing to do with this guy. He did his job, with valor and honor.

God rest his soul.

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@peters2010 yes.......sniping people dead in a country you should never have set foot in, is not good karma....

RickEllington
RickEllington

you are an idiot obiously you have NEVER read the BIBLE IDIOT!!!

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@WilliamMusson @BobSheepleherder I don't need to be a tough guy to know you are just another self centered loser, lacking the moral or physical courage to do the right thing when it needs to be done. It was not his decision to start that war, it was only his decision to do what his nation called on him to do. You judge him based on how he looks but you don't have a clue what motivates someone like him. You never will because weasels like you don't have a clue about honor or service to others. Loser.

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@BobSheepleherder @TomCzerniawski beggars?......we invade their country, destroy their culture, and murder countless people.......no wonder America is so hated and soooooo arrogant like yourself......Everything about Kyle was focused on violence....down to his black platinum ring.......he goes to a countr uninvited  and kills their citizens from ambush......the work of a coward and a tool of Geroge Bushs.......

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@BobSheepleherder @Leetut it is Americans like you, and they are crawling out of the sewers everywhere, who support the despicable American war machine that has surrounded the earth with 800 military bases so America can stick its nose into every other countries business......you think this is charity?   its hegemony at its worst.........go buy another gun.......

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@SudeepKanjilal @marina56 you dont do a job with valor and honor, by blindly following orders that fly in the face or valor and honor......everyone knows Iraq was evil and wrong, but the commander in chief tells you to go kill anyhow, and you say, "yes sir"? .........you are either looking for useless violence or you dont have the guts to standup and say  "no, george, i cant kill for you."   hi choose to volunteer to kill for nothing........  

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@RickEllington you dont invade someone elses country and snipe-off their people dead when they never attacked you in the frist place........the Iraq war was a miserable aggression by America.........i see you are one of those people who think god is on Americas side......you show your ignorance by calling peters2010 an idiot instead of using moral logic......

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@BobSheepleherder @WilliamMusson dude.......you dont do anything just because your nation asks you to do it.......unless you have no morals or self worth to make your own decision......are you not your own person?   do you stupidly go kill people or jump thru hoops beause george bush or obama asks?  think about the total waste America laid open by following a lying commander in chief who said "charge" and ask no questions......he is the herder and you and kyle are the sheep.....

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@WilliamMusson @BobSheepleherder @TomCzerniawski You try looking back, look at all of history. There are always men like Kyle who will willingly give their lives for others and there will always be self indulgent hypocrites like you who take the good things from society as their due, while they vilify those who paid in blood for the good things they take for granted. No more responses to you, even typing a response to creatures like you makes my skin crawl.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@WilliamMusson @BobSheepleherder @TomCzerniawski Who's "we"? You don't belong to the group of civilized people willing to do what it takes to maintain civil society. You are a coward, hiding behind your facade of "morality" pretending all of the things you have are something you deserve while blithely disregarding the efforts and the BLOOD spent by men and women like him to make sure you are safe under your beds.

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@KevinS.Vann you are full of it......according to your philosophy America should invade every country where we disapprove of some despotic ruler or whatever.......do you really think America is in the position to make these deciions around the world?   Why do you think America is qualified?.......furthermore, you must be disappointed that we are not invading china, russia, iran, syria and on and on.......since you freely feel you can rewrite the reason America destroyed Iraq and sacrificed 4000 Americans for one lousy saddam feel free to continue........


KevinS.Vann
KevinS.Vann

@WilliamMusson yet you would stand idle with your goodwill as they continue to die under his rule. Your diplomacy is truly appreciate behind a keyboard. I wonder what would be your stance with Hitler in 1933? "awe he's not so bad, he's in Germany and we're here" Germany invades Poland, "awe it's only the Poles, doesn't bother me none." Yes, my comparison with Hitler and Saddam are valid. The Third Reich was the model behind the Ba'ath party. The invasion should of happen back in 91, when he invaded Kuwait, not in 2013.

It's people like you who stand and watch madmen kill and pillaged and do nothing, yet you are quick to hate those who would stand up and actually do something to stop these madmen. I'm done wasting my time. Unless you have something intelligent to say, but I doubt that.

WilliamMusson
WilliamMusson

@KevinS.Vann you cannot be proud of anything America did ih Iraq.....i did notice you were rewriting the reason America invaded.......

KevinS.Vann
KevinS.Vann

@WilliamMusson @BobSheepleherder @TomCzerniawski I find it amusing that you keep saying their country, Saddam ruled with an iron fist and persecuted the Kurds to the north and Shiite in the south. The majority of the population was in favor of toppling Saddam and his cronies, mind you that the plan to hold the peace was gone once we disbanded their military. The Sunnis upraising was a direct fear that they might lose political power to the majority Shiite. You talk and have nothing to support your points except to say Chris murdered innocent Iraqi civilians, yet most of those who perish under his scope were Islamist radicals not from Iraq, who would cut your head off and put it on stick if they had the opportunity. We honor Chris for the lives he saved, not the number of kills he had. He didn't even want to write the book, it was only under pressure from publishers that he did so. All profits of the book went to his team buddies family, who died in Iraq. Don't mix your political feelings and use his death to push your agenda. You make me sick! I almost feel sorry for you, almost.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@WilliamMusson @BobSheepleherder @Leetut I do get angry. I get angry at self righteous hypocrites who take from society and give nothing back, not even the barest morsel of serving others before oneself. Leeches on the life blood of civilization.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@WilliamMusson @BobSheepleherder @Leetut That's right we HAVE crawled out of the sewers ... while you and the vermin like you remain there living off of the efforts of others. Don't you make yourself sick when you look at yourself in the mirror ... if you can stand to look at yourself in the mirror?

SudeepKanjilal
SudeepKanjilal

@WilliamMusson @SudeepKanjilal @marina56 William, I do understand your point. However, if every soldier starts to question his orders, things fall apart. For army, any organization will fall apart.

ALL wars are bad. People die in wars, and even in best cases, more civilians than soldiers. But, that was not his decision, was it? He was doing his job, protecting his unit, taking out enemy, who were armed themselves. 

Yes, if he was shooting children on a lark, then he would be a war criminal. But that was never the case.


I still stand by my words - he did his job with honor, and valor.

peters2010
peters2010

@RickEllington

6“Flee from Babylon!

Run for your lives!

Do not be destroyed because of her sins.

It is time for the LORD’s vengeance;

he will pay her what she deserves.

7Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD’s hand;

she made the whole earth drunk.

The nations drank her wine;

therefore they have now gone mad.

8Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.

Wail over her!

Get balm for her pain;

perhaps she can be healed.

9“‘We would have healed Babylon,

but she cannot be healed;

let us leave her and each go to his own land,

for her judgment reaches to the skies,

it rises as high as the clouds.’

peters2010
peters2010

@RickEllington 

JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU GUYS..IT IS COMING AND THERE IS NOWHERE TO HIDE...ACTUALLY THERE  IS...ONE PLACE....."UNDER GODS WING"...MAKE PEACE WITH GOD, WHILE YOU CAN.....

peters2010
peters2010

@RickEllington

For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.


peters2010
peters2010

@RickEllington

“And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: 12 merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk 


peters2010
peters2010

@RickEllington

In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine


peters2010
peters2010

@RickEllington

there is more

revelation 18

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached[b] to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.


BenjaminO'Donnell
BenjaminO'Donnell

@KevinS.Vann Thank you Kevin so much your knowledge is commendable and lets not forget that in fact Iraq did have WMD's for all the spud lickers out there that's not just nukes but chemical and biological weapons as well and trained and funded terrorist cells that had links to 9/11 including many other terrorist attacks.

BenjaminO'Donnell
BenjaminO'Donnell

@BobSheepleherder @WilliamMusson @Leetut 1 Britain still has a decent number of murders just not as much by guns 2 America is pretty much the 1st line of defense now the opposite of how WW1 started we reversed roles do not mistake though I'm grateful for the support Britain plays in the world and how we both work together now.


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