"All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpet."--Voltaire
Book by ‘most lethal sniper’ in U.S. history claims 160 kills in Iraq
January 05, 2012
Chris Kyle in camouflage uniform. The former Navy SEAL probably holds the American record for military killing by sniper fire.
Some days, Chris Kyle writes, the U.S. military credits him with killing 160 people in Iraq. Other days, it credits him with killing a bunch more people. Not that the tally matters.
“The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more,” Kyle, a former Navy SEAL, writes in his new memoir, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. “Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”
Though a spokesperson for the Naval Special Warfare Command said he could not corroborate Kyle’s claimed kill count, he said Kyle “seems to be a pretty credible guy.” Kyle’s official service record confirms that he received the numerous prestigious combat awards he says he did — and, in a Wednesday interview, Kyle said he didn’t even want to include his kill count in the book.
“One of the things people are saying is, ‘Why are you glorifying yourself for killing so many people?’ My thing is, I didn’t even want the number put in there. That’s not even on me. You can blame the publisher for wanting to sell books,” Kyle, 37, said over the phone from New York.
“I’m not trying to glorify myself, and if you read the book, you’ll find out that I give all the credit to all my guys. I’m not the best sniper, I’m not the best SEAL, I almost failed out of sniper school. I happened to be surrounded by heroes who made me look good.”
Kyle, who served from 1999 to 2009, did four tours in Iraq. If his claimed kill count is accurate, he far exceeded the 109 kills recorded by the Vietnam War sniper previously thought to hold the American record, Adelbert Waldron III.
Kyle earned two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars With Valor, and reverent nicknames from both his SEAL colleagues (“The Legend”) and insurgents in Ramadi (“The Devil”). A former rodeo rider who grew up hunting deer and pheasant in his native Texas, he said Wednesday that he is “just some big, dumb hick.”
“I’m not this refined assassin, or whatever you might think when you look at Hollywood. I don’t have the stereotypical look to me, I guess. I’m a country boy. I have the accent. In fact, I’m wearin’ my boots and jeans today,” he said, his drawl thick.
Kyle is the son of a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. He did most of his killing with a bolt-action .300 Winchester Magnum sniper rifle.
He says he killed 40 people in the Second Battle of Fallujah alone, about seven of them through the window of an apartment building while lying on top of a baby crib he turned upside-down. (“No babies were harmed,” he said with a chuckle.) Near Sadr City, he says, he killed an insurgent, who had been aiming a rocket launcher at an approaching American convoy, from a distance of 1.2 miles.
Kyle said Wednesday that he never mistakenly killed an innocent person. In fact, he said, he probably should have killed more people than he did.
“That was one thing that was heavy on my mind: when I come home, I definitely do not want to be tried for murder for accidentally shootin’ the wrong person,” he said.
When people ask him whether it bothers him that he killed so many people, he writes, he answers with a simple “no.” On Wednesday, he said it does bother him, “a little bit,” that some people now think he is a “sadistic murderer.”
“I’ve seen the blogs,” he said. “People who have never been out there, never experienced it — and they think that, because I consider myself a Christian, I’m a horrible Christian, because Christians aren’t supposed to be killin’ people. But you know what? In the Bible, God sent people to kill people. I feel extremely justified in what I did. I’m not out there murdering people; the people I killed were actively trying to murder my people, and I was out there trying to protect ’em.”
Kyle says he was shot twice. Insurgents put a bounty on his head. Two of his close friends were killed. In the end, though, he says it was his fear of losing his wife, not his life, that prompted him to leave the military. He now runs a security and weapons training company in Dallas.
“My wife figured out, the last three years I was active, I was home six months. That’s not good for a marriage, especially when you’ve got two kids, two very young kids, who didn’t know their dad,” he said. “SEALs have a 95 per cent divorce rate.”