Chris Kyle, a highly decorated Navy veteran and his friend Chad Littlefield were shot and killed by an ex-Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome at a shooting range south of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday. Kyle was a Navy SEAL who was considered the most lethal sniper in American history, having 160 confirmed kills during his four tours in Iraq from 1999 to 2009. He was awarded the Bronze and Silver Stars numerous times, and earned the sobriquet the “Devil of Ramadi” by Iraqi insurgents who were unnerved by his ability to accomplish long-range kills. A bounty was placed on his head by the insurgents, escalating from $20,000 to $80,000 as his kills multiplied.
Following his last tour, Kyle moved to Midlothian, Texas, and started Craft International, a firm providing military, law enforcement, and civilian training, as well as private security training. He wrote an autobiography, American Sniper, in which he detailed his experiences as a sniper during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Reading more like a novel than an autobiography, Kyle noted his first kill — an Iraqi woman setting a grenade in front of a troop of Marines:
The rifle I was holding was a .300 WinMag, a bolt-action, precision sniper weapon….
We were on the roof of an old rundown building at the edge of a town the Marines were going to pass through. The wind kicked dirt and papers across the battered road below us. The place smelled like a sewer — the stench of Iraq was one thing I'd never get used to….
"Marines are coming," said my chief as the building began to shake. "Keep watching."
I looked through the scope. The only people who were moving were a woman and maybe a child or two nearby. I watched our troops pull up. Ten young Marines in uniform got out of their vehicles and gathered for a foot patrol. As the Americans organized, the woman took something from beneath her clothes, and yanked at it.
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Photo of Eddie Ray Routh: AP Images