Jan 30, 2015
Chris Kyle shot me into the soul. A through and through. An arrow into the heart. It has marked me for life. We just got home from seeing American Sniper. Don’t know when a movie has affected us this much. It was beyond excellent.
The story of Chris Kyle is not maudlin, but so much more than the standard bearers of Hamburger Hill, Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Inglorious Bastards, Platoon, The Dirty Dozen, We Were Soldiers, The Longest Day, The Great Escape or Jarhead. I can’t remember when a film was more to the heart yet grinding down into the grit.
It is not a sad tale if you focus on his contributions, not his death. It is one that defines a soldier’s life and honors him. American Sniper is not about his incomprehensible death at a fellow veteran’s hand, but about the soldiers’ lives Kyle saved with those 160 ‘confirmed’ kills – meaning that there was at least one other witness besides the shooter and another 95 probable kills. From Kyle’s 4 tours of duty in Iraq, he was awarded 2 Silver Stars and 5 Bronze Stars with Valor, 2 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and 1 Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. Kyle said he didn’t know the official record and instead, focused on lives saved. During his time in Iraq, he was shot twice and in 6 separate IED explosions.
It doesn’t glorify Kyle’s killing, but underscores that those who are behind the scenes, protecting all those wonderful people at the front lines and doing the grunt work, work together for a common goal. Protecting Americans.
When the credits rolled, unlike any film before, there was no music. Just silence. When Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were murdered by a PTSD Marine vet who they were helping, it didn’t show the actual shootings. Instead, it fast forwarded to the tens of thousands that honored Kyle. People that lined the freeways during the funeral procession, clogged the highways, filled the streets and overpasses, waved flags, saluted, in wheelchairs and on foot, honoring Chris Kyle.
Throughout the film, fellow soldiers always called him ‘Legend’ much to Kyle’s embarrassment. I have never felt more proud, nor more sorrowful, as that sorry bastard we have as president has yet to acknowledge Chris Kyle’s legacy and contribution.
The film’s director, Clint Eastwood, didn’t name Kyle’s killer, much like we don’t do here for mass murderers that seek attention and glory. None of us will give them that sought-after notoriety.
After the movie finished, there was complete quiet. No one chattered or made wise cracks. No one spoke. Nobody crushed their drink cups or popcorn containers. Instead you heard reverent quiet and the occasional sucking in of tears, most often by old-timers. You can include us in that bunch. If people weren’t moved by this movie, they weren’t breathing.
We were nearly home before I broke the silence with Stan. Normally we jabber like jay-monkeys after seeing a movie. This time we were just quiet. Thinking…
Now some of you will not be on board with this movie, but give it a minute of thought and a second minute of appreciation for Chris Kyle and those like him that let you live, let us live the good life, home in America, while they are on the front lines, doing what they are commanded to do to keep us free. It really IS a big thing. A gift.
To say that you will ‘enjoy’ this movie is the wrong term, but you will appreciate those who sacrifice all.
The following was sent to me by John, a Texas friend and Green Beret. It is an account of the funeral of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, by the mother of his SEAL roommate.
This is why America will remain strong. We take care of our own as well as others who may not deserve taking care of. I just wanted to share with you all that out of a horrible tragedy we were blessed by so many people.
Chris Kyle was Derek’s teammate through 10 years of training and battle. They both suffer/suffered from PTSD to some extent and took great care of each other because of it.
2006 in Ramadi was horrible for young men that never had any more aggressive physical contact with another human than on a Texas football field.
They lost many friends. Chris became the armed services number #1 sniper of all time. Not something he was happy about, other than the fact that in so doing, he saved a lot of American lives.
Three years ago, his wife Taya asked him to leave the SEAL teams as he had a huge bounty on his head by Al Qaeda. He did and wrote the book “The American Sniper.” 100% of the proceeds from the book went to two of the SEAL families who had lost their sons in Iraq.
That was the kind of guy Chris was. He formed a company in Dallas to train military, police and I think firemen as far as protecting themselves in difficult situations. He also formed a foundation to work with military people suffering from PTSD. Chris was a giver not a taker.
He, along with a friend and neighbor, Chad Littlefield, were murdered trying to help a young man that had served six months in Iraq and claimed to have PTSD.
Now I need to tell you about all of the blessings.
Southwest Airlines flew in any SEAL and their family from any airport they flew into …free of charge.
The employees donated buddy passes and one lady worked for four days without much of a break to see that it happened.
Volunteers were at both airports in Dallas to drive them to the hotel.
The Marriott Hotel reduced their rates to $45 a night and cleared the hotel for only SEALs and family.
The Midlothian, TX Police Department paid the $45 a night for each room. I would guess there were about 200 people staying at the hotel, 100 of them were SEALs. Two large buses were chartered (an unknown donor paid the bill) to transport people to the different events and they also had a few rental cars (donated). The police and secret service were on duty 24 hours during the stay at our hotel.
At the Kyle house, the Texas DPS parked a large motor home in front to block the view from reporters. It remained there the entire five days for the SEALs to congregate in and all to use the restroom so as not to have to go in the house. Taya, their two small children and both sets of parents were staying in the home.
Only a hand full of SEALs went into the home as they had different duties and meetings were held sometimes on a hourly basis. It was a huge coordination of many different events and security. Derek was assigned to be a Pall Bearer, to escort Chris’ body when it was transferred from the Midlothian Funeral Home to the Arlington Funeral Home, and to be with Taya. A tough job.
Taya seldom came out of her bedroom. The house was full with people from the church and other family members that would come each day to help. I spent one morning in a bedroom with Chris’ mom and the next morning with Chad Littlefield’s parents (the other man murdered with Chris). A tough job.
George W Bush and his wife Laura met and talked to everyone on the Seal Team one on one. They went behind closed doors with Taya for quite a while. They had prayer with us all. You can tell when people were sincere and caring.
Nolan Ryan sent his cooking team, a huge grill and lots of steaks, chicken and hamburgers. They set up in the front yard and fed people all day long including the 200 SEALs and their families. The next day a local BBQ restaurant set up a buffet in front of the house and fed all once again. Food was plentiful and all were taken care of. The family’s church kept those inside the house well fed.
Jerry Jones, the man everyone loves to hate, was a rock star. He made sure that we all were taken care of. His wife and he were just making sure everyone was taken care of….Class… He donated the use of Cowboy Stadium for the services as it was determined that so many wanted to attend.
The charter buses transported us to the stadium on Monday at 10:30 am. Every car, bus, motorcycle was searched with bomb dogs and police. I am not sure if kooks were making threats trying to make a name for themselves or if so many SEALs in one place was a security risk, I don’t know. We willingly obliged. No purses went into the stadium!
We were taken to The Legends room high up and a large buffet was available. That was for about 300 people. We were growing.
A Medal of Honor recipient was there, lots of secret service and police and Sarah Palin and her husband. She looked nice, this was a very formal military service.
The service started at 1:00 pm and when we were escorted onto the field I was shocked. We heard that about 10,000 people had come to attend also. They were seated in the stadium seats behind us. It was a beautiful and emotional service.
The Bagpipe and drum corps were wonderful and the Texas A&M men’s choir stood through the entire service and sang right at the end. We were all in tears.
The next day was the 200-mile procession from Midlothian, TX to Austin for burial. It was a cold, drizzly, windy day, but the people were out. We had dozens of police motorcycles riders, freedom riders, five chartered buses and lots of cars. You had to have a pass to be in the procession and still it was huge. Two helicopters circled the procession with snipers sitting out the side door for protection. It was the longest funeral procession ever in the state of Texas. People were everywhere. The entire route was shut down ahead of us, the people were lined up on the side of the road the entire way. Firemen were down on one knee, police officers were holding their hats over their hearts, children waving flags, veterans saluting as we went by. Every bridge had fire trucks with large flags displayed from their tall ladders, people all along the entire 200 miles were standing in the cold weather. It was so heartwarming. Taya rode in the hearse with Chris’ body so Derek rode the route with us. I was so grateful to have that time with him.
The service was at Texas National Cemetery. Very few are buried there and you have to apply to get in. It is like people from the Civil War, Medal of Honor winners, a few from the Alamo and all the historical people of Texas. It was a nice service and the Freedom Riders surrounded the outside of the entire cemetery to keep the crazy church people from Kansas that protest at military funerals away from us.
Each SEAL put his Trident (metal SEAL badge) on the top of Chris’ casket, one at a time. A lot hit it in with one blow. Derek was the only one to take four taps to put his in and it was almost like he was caressing it as he did it. Another tearful moment.
Photo: Chris Kyle’s coffin ‘tattooed’ in Tridents. Whenever a fellow SEAL is laid to rest, they remove their much coveted, well-deserved SEAL insignias, awarded after successfully completing training and out of respect to the fallen, attach them to the coffin.HOLLY NOTE: In researching for this article, one man said his uncle, also a SEAL and had attended the Kyle funeral, said he had never seen so many tridents on a casket. This is what one might normally expect and still a magnificent tribute to one of our fallen.
After the service Governor Rick Perry and his wife, Anita, invited us to the governor’s mansion. She stood at the door, greeted each of us individually, and gave each of the SEALs a coin of Texas. She was a sincere, compassionate, and gracious hostess.
We were able to tour the ground floor and then went into the garden for beverages and BBQ. So many of the Seal team guys said that after they get out they are moving to Texas. They remarked that they had never felt so much love and hospitality. The charter buses then took the guys to the airport to catch their returning flights. Derek just now called and after a 20 hours flight he is back in his spot, in a dangerous land on the other side of the world, protecting America.
We just wanted to share with you, the events of a quite emotional, but blessed week.
And one last thing:
A while back, the current resident of the White House found the time to call some football player to congratulate him on announcing to the world that he is gay… But to this day, neither President Obama, nor anyone in his administration, has ever acknowledged Chris Kyle. What is happening to our society, when our President has so little honor?
A large group of ISIS fighters in Iraq are moving down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a sand dune. “One Marine is better than 10 ISIS fighters”.
The ISIS commander quickly orders 10 of his best men over the dune where a gun battle breaks out and continues for a few minutes. Then silence.
The voice once again calls out: “One Marine is better than 100 ISIS S.O.B.’s “.
Furious, the ISIS commander sends his next best 100 troops over the dune and instantly a huge gun fight commences. After 10 minutes of battle, again silence.
The voice calls out again: “One Marine is better than 1,000 ISIS fighters.”
The enraged ISIS commander musters 1,000 fighters and sends them to the other side of the dune. Rifle fire, machine guns, grenades, rockets and cannon fire ring out as a terrible battle is fought … then silence.
Eventually, one badly wounded ISIS fighter crawls back over the dune and with his dying words tells his commander, “Don’t send any more men … it’s a trap. There’s 2 of them.”