Chris Kyle in April, 2012. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP)
American war hero Chris Kyle fortuitously spoke of the legacy he wanted to leave just days before being shot dead by a fellow soldier he was mentoring.
“I would love for people to be able to think of me as a guy who stood up for what he believed in and helped make a difference for the vets,” he told the Texan News Service. “You know, somebody who cared so much about them that he wanted them taken care of.”
That mission was tragically cut short on Saturday when Kyle and another man were killed at a gun range in Central Texas. Police said former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, 25, shot the men, who reportedly were spending the day with Routh in an effort to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Kyle, a former Navy SEAL recognized as the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, authored the 2012 best-selling book “American Sniper.” Five days before his own death, he spoke at length to TNS, an independent Web publication produced by students from Tarleton State University, which Kyle once attended. The 26-minute recorded conversation was likely his last media interview.
The heavily decorated veteran had also spoken about the notoriety brought on by the book, including a recent stint on an NBC reality show featuring war veterans and celebrities. Kyle, who had suffered with his own bouts of PTSD, disclosed that he may not have been ready for the rush of activity tied to the book.
“I’m just trying to get back to normal life,” Kyle said.
He noted that when the book first came out, “I wasn’t in a good place yet in my life or in my head. But since then I’ve definitely gotten my head straight and gotten back to where I should be.”
Kyle attributed his recent happiness to spending more time with his family and his work with other veterans. He proudly talked about taking soldiers suffering from physical and emotional scars on deer hunting trips this past winter. “It sucks to be trapped somewhere,” he said of the hospitalized veterans. “You’re just out there being one with the guys again, having fun and cutting up. Being in the outdoors, it seems to really progress their healing process. They get along so much faster to where the hospitals have now said, ‘Whenever you want ’em, you just take ’em,’ because … they’re just on a high for about two or three weeks.”
The work and outings have helped Kyle, too. “There’s definitely still a lot of hurt from losing my guys or the fact that I got out and I felt like it wasn’t my time yet,” he said. “Being able to do this makes me feel like I’m still a part of it and still giving back.”
Kyle had said he was giving all of his proceeds from “American Sniper” to the families of soldiers he couldn’t save in combat. He said he regularly received tearful calls and letters of thanks.
“That means the world to me,” he told Texas News Service.
Kyle’s book is being made into a movie, but he said he was leaving the heavy lifting to the folks in Hollywood.
“I’m trying to get it to where I spend more time at home, because the whole reason I got out was to be with my family,” he said. “I’m just trying to be the me that I am and not all of this other crap. I just want to be the family man, and if somehow I can make the money to get my ranch and get the hell away from everybody else, that would be awesome.”
Asked at the end of the interview if he had anything else to add, Kyle took a deep sigh and said, “I’m tired.”