I join the nation in grieving the death of former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was senselessly killed on Saturday, February 2, 2013, along with another fellow veteran at a gun range 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas.
Chris was a true patriot who served our country with distinction and honor. Born in Odessa, Texas, Chris joined the United States Navy in 1999, after being initially rejected due to an arm injury sustained during his time as a professional bronco rodeo rider. Following his initial training, Kyle was assigned to the illustrious SEAL Team 3, where he participated in every major battle of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For his bravery, he was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. Additionally, Kyle is credited with sniping more than 160 insurgents throughout his four deployments, making him one of the most lethal snipers in the history of the United States military.
After completing his combat duty in 2009, Chris continued to serve not only his country, but also the unit he loved so much -- the Navy SEALs -- as well as fellow veterans of all branches struggling to cope with the effects of serving their country in wartime. Chris authored the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Doctrine -- the first Navy SEAL sniper manual - and became chief instructor training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper teams. In 2011, Chris paired with FITCO Fitness to establish the FITCO Cares Foundation Heroes Project to help disabled or struggling veterans improve their lives. Chris knew that his experiences as a SEAL and the challenges he faced upon returning home could best be channeled into helping fellow veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our safety and our freedom.
Sadly, Chris, along with his friend and fellow veteran, Chad Littlefield, died senselessly Saturday while trying to help another fellow veteran. While we may never be able to make sense of this terrible tragedy, today, we remember the sacrifice of these two brave men, who were not only heroic in their defense of this nation, but were also heroic here at home as they attempted to better the lives of their returning comrades.
Chris Kyle was deeply committed to serving both his country and his fellow veterans and will always be remembered as one who placed honor and duty above his own personal interest and safety. I am humbled by his service and dedication to not just the SEALs, but to his country, his fellow veterans, his community, his friends and his family. His sacrifice exemplifies that set forth in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."
May the peace of God be with those they loved and those who loved them and sustain them through this time of sorrow.