The Saddest Most Lethal Sniper Ever – American Sniper Movie
Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper ever to serve for the American forces, at any time:
“Considered by many to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle recorded 255 kills, 160 officially confirmed by the Pentagon, and served four tours of duty in Iraq.”
Let that soak a bit. To get a “confirmed” kill, snipers needed to have a second witness siting of the kill, and also for both of them to fill out paperwork on the kill. Apparently becoming the Grim Reaper is more like being an accountant these days. Regardless of whether the number is 255 or 160, or somewhere in between that’s a whole lot of death.
Let me back up. I’ve dropped you into the middle. After Chris Kyle’s four tours in Iraq, he chose to write a book about his time as a SEAL and as a sniper. The book is called American Sniper – and its just a jaw dropping book. Like, slack jawed, what the frick, sort of a book. Constantly I found myself just asking myself what killing a hundred people in such a hermetically sealed sort of a way would do to a human’s soul.
His book reads something like this: We were on a roof, supporting the troop movements of 40 guys through the city streets of Fallujah as they swept a sector. I saw two men with an RPG on their back riding together on a moped. So I got the clearance to take the shot, and in one shot I dropped them both. We noted the kills and then swiveled around and saw two more guys on opposing sides of the street with AK-47s lying in wait for our troops. Two minutes later, two more guys were down and we started taking fire at that point from many different directions. It is really that sanitized. I’m not making this up. I shot this guy in the face. Then I filled out some paperwork. Afterwards, I got pulled from the front because it was an unconfirmed kill that needed to be reviewed before I got the clearance to go back to the front. But I just decided to let the lawyers fight, because I just didn’t care, and they didn’t get it.
Kyle’s very first long-range kill shot was taken during the initial invasion of Iraq. Chris killed a woman carrying a hand grenade as she was approaching a group of Marines. After getting clearance he killed the woman before she could attack. And get this, afterwards he stated that “the woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn’t take any Marines with her.”
The most passionate Chris got in his book was when a friend died on the field and he was stuck back stateside. He carried a lot of the burden assuming that he might have been able to protect him if he had been there. But otherwise, there is very very little soul searching happening in his account. But you wouldn’t, would you? To be able to physically put down hundreds of people, and to watch as their heads exploded, or see them in agony lying there on the ground… to be able to inflict that kind of human trauma in that sort of a way, you would have to be calloused beyond calloused. Right? But even so, the book is just jaw-unhinging amazing. Has to be read to be understood. And I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of memoirs of guys who have come back from Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, but none have touched me like this book has.
Since writing the book, it was pretty obvious the guy had a hole in his soul from the experiences. (“Experiences” he says, as though they were random meetings and conversations held at the corner bookstore.) Basically Kyle found himself in bar brawl after bar brawl. But when your normal mode of operation was on the operating end of a high caliber sniper rifle, and someone starts talking bad about the president?… you are probably going to pop off. (Like he did to Jesse Ventura apparently, when he punched the ex-governer in the face.)
But when I heard that they were going to be doing a movie about American Sniper I was unthrilled. What are they going to do? Yes, there are a couple of intense, contiguous sections in the movie (Fallujah being the most obvious one) but mostly its just a recounting of kill after kill after kill. So how is that even possible? But then I saw this trailer just depicting one of his potential kills and everything changed.
So yeah? Yeah. YEAH! This movie comes with a deep prescience of foreboding that a retelling of his book would have to have basically because Chris had ZERO understanding within his own internal monologue. And let’s face it. He is the real story here. Not what he did. But how he survived doing it. And, I guess, ultimately, he actually didn’t survive what he did there in Iraq. It ultimately caught up with him.
I think I would still recommend a read of the book even before the movie comes out in January of 2016 because it’s just that good. And there is no way they are going to be able to fit even a 10th of his stories into the movie. But from the trailer, American Sniper looks like a Black Hawk down for snipers. Which may seem incongruous, but I think I’m spot on there. We’ll see. Anyone interested in joining me when it comes out? We’ll make a party out of it.
As a side note – if you already read American Sniper and you are interested in a couple other amazing sniper books to read check out War of the Rats. Tells the story of two of the best snipers in World War II meeting in Stalingrad. That book details out what sniping looks like in a war of attrition much better than American Sniper did. Two world class snipers setting bait and hiding under rubble for 3 days? Really intense.