Battleland

Killer. Healer. Victim.

In Iraq, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was a world-class sniper. At home he worked to help fellow veterans. That mission got him killed

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

The late Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL sniper.

The Healer
He left the Navy in 2009 after a decade of service. Kyle wanted to re-enlist, but his now widow Taya said she’d leave him if he did. “She was going to take our two kids and go to her parents,” he said. “And I could lose my family.” Over the course of his deployments to Iraq, he earned a constellation of medals, including a pair of Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars. Back home, he and some fellow vets founded Craft International, a security company. “Despite what your momma told you,” its motto reads, “violence does solve problems.”

Kyle loved firearms. His Chris Kyle Academy—one of two training outfits he set up—was planning to hold a handgun-training session for local schoolteachers on April 6 to enable them to qualify for a concealed-gun permit. “He wanted to train 1,000 schoolteachers,” Tarrant County constable Clint Burgess says. “He loved guns and wanted to make sure people could handle them safely. He was the first to tell you: Guns don’t kill.”

Kyle also tried his hand as an author. “It’s kind of frowned on,” Kyle said of his writing. “I’m not trying to glorify myself. I didn’t want to put the number [of kills] I had in there. I wanted to be able to get it out about the sacrifices military families have to make.” Readers lapped it up: Kyle’s book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, became a nonfiction success in early 2012, with nearly 1 million copies distributed.

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

That led to TV appearances and speaking engagements and let him harness his fame to aid struggling vets. Kyle had created the Fitco Cares Foundation in late 2011 with the goal of helping veterans overcome their struggles through exercise—something he had done when he returned home, though he said he didn’t have PTSD. He also began taking vets to shooting ranges. “What wounded veterans don’t need is sympathy,” Kyle explained in his book. “They need to be treated like the men they are: equals, heroes and people who still have tremendous value for society.” He saw shooting as a key part of that process.

For a combat veteran, an invitation to go shooting with Kyle—perhaps the world’s best sharpshooter—was like being asked to play golf with Tiger Woods. “I can see being on the range being therapeutic and almost cathartic for people back from war,” says Rorke Denver, a 13-year SEAL who served with Kyle and whose book, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior, will be published Feb. 19. “Hollywood has made the public think that shooting a weapon is an aggressive act and very intense. But to shoot well is completely the opposite. It’s slowing your heart rate down, your breathing down, focusing and taking the time to identify your target.”

Others aren’t so sure a shooting range was the right place for Kyle to take Routh. “It seems crazy,” says Elspeth Ritchie, a retired Army colonel who once served as its top psychiatrist, “to bring a troubled young man to a firing range.”

PHOTOS: Navy SEALs in Action

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22 comments
LauHiengHiong
LauHiengHiong

Anyone who has attained such a laudable position as one of the most accomplished sharp-shooters during a war is certainly a hero in our mind. However, the ensuing praises and great admiration might, unintentionally, somehow transform the retired veteran into an overconfident superhuman. The complacence may be reinforced by a series of later events like the success in publishing an autobiography, even further consolidated by TV appearances and speaking engagements. The overwhelming fame thus established – plus strong passion and enthusiasm towards fellow veterans -- may lead one to become even more decisive and assertive, so as to assume a therapeutic role to aid former sick comrades suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder or whatever.

One recurrent human weakness is often witnessed in overconfidence, complacency, and over-conceited attitudes. This human weakness might have resulted in the tragedy which destroyed a bright future of a brilliant soldier. A lesson should have been learned by all of us from this disastrous dramatic shooting incident.

Lau Hieng-Hiong, Hsinchu, TAIWAN

slackersmom
slackersmom

First of all, I don't see how the title of the article is disrespectful.  The article makes it clear that Chris Kyle was a patriotic, conscientious soldier who did his job.  I doubt he himself would complain about it.

What I wonder is, knowing that Routh had "mental" issues, and knowing that he had also threatened to KILL his parents, why would anyone think it was a good idea to invite someone like that to a gun range???

mustard88
mustard88

This is 2nd time that I wrote:

I read about Mr. Chris Kyle from a Vietnamese magazine in a gun control topic...It was on my mind. Then I read more about his legacy from Time Magazine. He certainly loved his nuclear family. It is very rare in this state and age, especially in the America mainstream, Hollywood Media. Please pray for him.  I am also convinced that he is watching over America now. MR. CHRIS KYLE, PLEASE BLESS AND PRAY FOR AMERICA, VIETNAM AND THE PHILIPPINES!

sretsoK
sretsoK

Fox News or Limbaugh must have gotten a bunch of peoples panties in a bunch with their "Fair and Balanced" reporting after reading these comments. 

NadePaulKuciGravMcKi
NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

TIME will tell us all about how Chris Kyle bragged about shooting dead two guys with his 45 at a Texas gas station in 2009

Government and Media coverup ... or more make-believe like the Jesse Ventura Smear boast?

Victoriasmith
Victoriasmith

"Time" is certainly showing its bias with the title of this poorly written article. What a disgrace and how very disrespectful to the memory of Mr. Kyle. Bad form.

vreyes78
vreyes78

It's unbelievable that your publication had the nerve to call Chris Kyle a killer. This man is an American hero, he saved American service members lives by killing the enemy *FACT*. And now after his death you people attempt to piss on grave by calling him a killer when what you should be doing is paying homage and thanking him since it's been men and women like him that protected your right to free speech and freedom of press since the inception of this country only to have the manner in which that freedom is given to you questioned.

austinjamesdavison
austinjamesdavison

Time you disgust me, Chris Kyle is an american hero who killed so we wont have to and those who wish to harm us cant. Chris Kyle stepped up to the plate and did what most men cant even imagine doing. @JoeGrobmeier You sure are fast to talk for some one who is enjoying the freedom he helped pay for and was willing to give his life so you could talk bad about him. If a terrorist were to take you hostage im sure you would want him to save you. We have 33 organizations on the foreign terrorist list who would love to harm Americans  Its because of people like him who keep us safe.

fograin
fograin

Discerning who ur enemy is, IED's killing ur buddies, unable to avenge your buddy's experience. "Re-entry", now overnight thrust back into a society very different than the one you left.  Hacks, politico's, liars, cheats and theieves. Personally, I  have never met a fellow Combat Vet w/an aversion to firing a weapon.  The shooter was gonna have a weapon w/him everywhere he went 4 the rest of his life. Why?, he would never fell safe again for the rest of his life.

Bandsecurity
Bandsecurity

How is Chris Kyle a "Killer"?  He was a soldier and he followed orders.  That is what soldiers do and unfortunately it sometimes involves death.  What a terrible title. Instead of Killer, it could of been hero or soldier or sniper.  I think by using the title of killer, Time is implying that the deaths were not sanctioned, justified or committed in a that was against the UN.  This is just terrible journalism.  You should really be ashamed of yourself.  The last thing anyone would think of Chris Kyle is that he was killer. 

SashaShepherd
SashaShepherd

@Bandsecurity Because he killed people. How hard is this to understand?

Bandsecurity
Bandsecurity

He did so in the course of his job and in protecting the US and other soldiers.  There is a difference between justifiable homicide and murder.  How hard is this to understand? 

Bandsecurity
Bandsecurity

I am sure some of them could have been. By using the word "Killer" it implies that he did something immoral or unjust.Could they have used a better word to describe his role in the war?Yes, how about soldier, sniper or warrior.His actions saved the lives of many other service members.I certainly don’t get that impression when Time defines him as a Killer.When a police officer or mother is forced to use a weapon to defend themselves, should we refer to them as Killers?Is that technically accurate?Perhaps, but it is really not a proper characterization.

SashaShepherd
SashaShepherd like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Bandsecurity It didn't say he was a murderer. It said he was a killer.

In WWII, there were about 20 million soldiers killed by other soldiers. Were none of them 'killers?'

JoeGrobmeier
JoeGrobmeier

He got what  was due.A cold blooded murder for hire.

vstillwell
vstillwell

It always comes back to the economy. Always. These vets are coming back to the worst economy since the Great Depression. You take away people's hope, you take away everything, and a few go off the deep end. Just saying.  

sretsoK
sretsoK

@vstillwell The worst economy since the depression is a funny statement. How long are the bread lines in your neighborhood? Wait, there aren't any? Weird. 

Reportfactsnotopinions
Reportfactsnotopinions like.author.displayName 1 Like

While I appreciate the coverage on Kyle, why is there not equal coverage for the other solider Chad,  that lost his life in this incident? Are they not both decorated Veterans.

Paul_Yew
Paul_Yew like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Reportfactsnotopinions I totally agree with you here. All the news related to this case has focused on Kyle so far. I'm glad Kyle is being recognised, but how about the other vet, Chad?


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