Badass of the Week.

Chris Kyle

"I signed up to protect this country. I do not choose the wars. It happens that I love to fight. But I do not choose which battles I go to. Y'all send me to them."

It should be a pretty well-established fact by now that if you go out and do something that threatens American lives, Navy SEALs will literally fall out of the sky and kill you in your sleep.

Chris Kyle is one of the men who made sure that happened. He's recently-retired SEAL who also happens to have the most confirmed sniper kills of any person in American history.

The man known who is now hatefully remembered by his enemies as "The Devil of Ramadi" grew up, ironically enough, as the son of a church deacon and a Sunday school teacher on a cattle ranch in some random rural part of Texas. Starting from age 8, Kyle hunted pheasant and quail with his father on the weekends, and worked hard on the ranch doing typical John Wayne cowboy shit like lassoing sheep, chewing rawhide, hog-tying things, and/or punching horses in the face (or, you know, whatever it is that cowboys actually do in real life). After high school he tried his hand at being a professional rodeo rider, doing that crazy shit where you desperately try to hang onto a the reins of super-pissed-as-hell bronco that wants nothing more than to hurl you teeth-first into the dirt and then trample your skull under its tremendous evil hooves of fury. When that stuff got too boring, the 24 year-old cowboy enlisted in the Navy, signing on in 1999 with the singular intent of being a badass-as-hell Navy SEAL sniper who rained death upon everything in front of him. Kyle quickly proved himself such a stone-cold marksman that he was sent off to sniper school. He almost failed out, but eventually got his shit together, passed a school with a 60-75% washout rate, and was assigned to Charlie Platoon of SEAL Team 3 – a unit so hardcore that they had the Punisher skull emblazoned on their helmets, body armor, and weapons. This is something I think we can pretty much all agree kicks ass.

As you probably noticed, things got significantly more insane on planet Earth after the United States simultaneously declared war on everyone in the world in 2001, and it wasn't long after this that Chris Kyle got orders for his first deployment -- a combat drop into Iraq in the opening hours of the 2003 Iraq War. It would be a pretty simple, straightforward mission – he was to sit in the gunner's seat of an armored truck and be dropped out of helicopter, landing behind enemy lines in the middle of the night while guys shot at him from a 360-degree field of fire, and then advance on an Iraqi-controlled oil refinery and capture it before the defenders could turn it into one of those annoying Kuwaiti oil field fires that pissed everyone off during Desert Storm. Welcome to the SEALs, buddy. Have fun out there. Don't forget to buckle your safety belt.

Well, as things tend to go when you're talking about insanely complicated military operations, it took about two minutes before everything totally went to shit. Almost immediately after the tires hit the ground, Kyle's truck got hopelessly stuck in the soft, oil-soaked sand, lodged in there like a giant million-dollar paperweight loaded up with enough ammunition to dent the Earth's crust. Since he wasn't all that interested in sitting there presenting a stationary target for the thousand or so automatic weapons currently trying to draw a bead on him, Kyle had to bail out of his relatively-protected gunnery position, hump it across the desert while assholes took potshots at him, and still somehow manage to get there before the enemy had time to pull out a matchbook and throw it in the refinery storage tanks. Kyle didn't flinch – he ripped the heavy machine gun off of his turret, ran across the field with his team, and together they somehow managed to capture the refinery intact, waxing the defenders in a short but bloody battle.

This is, of course, ridiculously hardcore, but Kyle's main claim to fame involves shooting lots of people with a sniper rifle. Kyle's first time using his signature weapon was during battle was when Team Three was tasked with helping Marines clear a small town on the road to Baghdad, when his Chief gave him a bolt-action .300 Winchester Magnum – basically a hunting rifle designed to take out North American big game, and not usually used in military service. Kyle quickly learned that he could use the weapon's massive muzzle velocity to regularly hit targets up to 1,800 yards out with insanely-deadly precision, and, since he wasn't one to fix things that ain't broken, would end up carrying that rifle through most of his career.

Kyle survived four deployments in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, fighting alongside some of the world's most hardcore elite special forces units – groups like the Polish GROM, the Special Air Service, and the US Marine Corps (not to mention his work in dedicated SEAL missions). The details of most of the stuff he saw are still mostly labeled "SUPER FUCKING CLASSIFIED" by the U.S. government, but we basically get the gist of it, and it amounts to taking point on dangerous missions, single-handedly sneaking into a hardened enemy fortresses by himself, staying undetected, finding an overwatch position on a rooftop somewhere, and then radioing in intelligence while Marines or soldiers move in to clear the area. If trouble presented itself, Kyle took it out, moking out enemy soldiers with the ruthless, detached precision required by his profession. From Fallujah to Baghdad to Sadr City, this guy capped fighters in some of the most difficult fighting the country has ever seen – a war where every single person in the city can potentially be an enemy, and the difference between life and death for your friends involves identifying the potential threats, waiting for them to show themselves as armed combatants, and then taking them down before they get the chance to pull the trigger and turn your buddy's wife into a widow. Crazy shit, like the time outside Sadr City, when Kyle had an eye on a dude acting a little suspiciously – Kyle kept an eye on him, then watched as the guy pulled out an RPG and lined up a rocket-propelled grenade round towards the windshield of an unsuspecting U.S. Army Humvee convoy. The would-be ambusher was 1.2 miles away (almost 2km), but Kyle dropped him with one shot. Say what you want, but that's fucking stone-cold.

"There is so much more to being a sniper than just being a monkey on a gun. You almost feel like a secret agent, because you get onto the battlefield before your guys do, and you give them live, up-to-the-minute intel about what’s happening. That keeps your guys safe. If you’re lucky, it could save their life."

But it wasn't just all spawncamping hax0rz for Chris Kyle – he also occasionally had to (or, in some cases, volunteered to) get down in the dirt and clear rooms himself. In the Battle of Fallujah alone, Chris Kyle recorded 40 kills, many of which involved house-to-house fighting alongside US Marines, including one instance where he braved heavy machine gun and RPG fire to rescue a team of Americans who had been pinned down in the middle of a street by a horde of unseen enemies attacking from every goddamned direction. In the battle of Ramadi, he resorted to fighting with his pistol and a captured AK after the battery died on his rifle sight, and still managed to kick so much ballsack that the Iraqis put a $20,000 bounty on his head and nicknamed him "The Devil".

Chris Kyle retired in 2009 at the age of 35, wrote a book about his life, and opened his own private military contractor. During his ten year career wreaking havoc across the battle-torn Iraq countryside, the "Devil of Ramadi" recorded 160 confirmed kills in battle, with an additional 100 unconfirmed – far outstripping the former record-holder, U.S. Army sniper Adelbert Waldron, who notched 109 confirmed in Vietnam (USMC super-sniper Carlos Hathcock, who I wrote about in BADASS recorded 93 confirmed, but his actual total is believed to be well over 300 – but, honestly, any time you're talking about taking the lives of over a hundred people, the actual body count becomes kind of a moot point). He received two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for valor in combat – the citations of which are still classified by the Navy and thereby unpublished, but it's probably safe to assume they were for doing totally insane shit that most likely involved shooting a lot of people in the face and/or head from a long ways away, and saving American lives in the process. Kyle himself was shot twice, blown up six times by IEDs, and lost a couple good friends in battle. He also claims to have punched Jesse Ventura in the face in a Navy bar while on shore leave – Ventura denies it, and nobody's confirmed it one way or the other, but naturally any time you can be attributed to a story involving cold-cocking a former governor, SEAL, and professional wrestler in the grill, it's only going to help contribute to your legend.

"It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naive, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job."


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