MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The deadliest sniper in American history, Chris Kyle lived in perches and hideouts in Iraq’s most dangerous cities, secretly protecting Marines and soldiers, one shot at a time.
“My only regrets are the guys I couldn’t save,” he said in 2012. “That’s what keeps me up at night. But every shot I took, I feel extremely justified.”
Kyle had 160 confirmed kills during four tours in Iraq. Insurgents so hated Kyle they put a bounty on his head and dubbed him the devil of Ramadi.
His exploits on the battle field have been made into the blockbuster war movie “American Sniper.”
But it was the tension between war zone and home front that proved especially difficult.
Three years ago Kyle spoke to Doug Dunbar, an anchor at a CBS4 sister station in Dallas, about that moment in 2009 when he had a choice to make. His lethal aim and the love for his brothers in arms left little room for his wife and kids in North Texas.
“Emotionally, it was very taxing,” said Kyle’s wife, Taya.
Taya Kyle was essentially a single mother of two. Chris had been home six months over a three year period. That’s when the Navy Seal was met with a direct hit from his wife at their kitchen table.
“I took it as an ultimatum, either you get out, or she and my kids were going to be gone,” he recalled.
“Of course he looked at that and thought the marriage would be over,” Taya said. “And you know what, he was probably right. I honestly didn’t think that far ahead.”
For Chris Kyle the choice was as clear as a target through his scope. He would trade his love of country, for the love of his life.
“She means the world to me, especially the kids I didn’t really have the opportunity to know,” he said. “I want to make sure they knew their dad, and knew how much I love them. Time for me to step back from the military, and give them my all.”
Not long after that interview, Kyle was shot and killed at a Texas gun range by 27 year-old Eddie Ray Routh.
Kyle’s funeral procession stretched 200 miles. The service was held at the stadium of the Dallas Cowboys, with Kyle’s casket at mid-field.
A troubled vet who Kyle had been trying to help, Routh suffers from Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
Taya Kyle, Chris Kyle’s widow, has scoffed that PTSD explains why anyone murders.
“Doesn’t change their character, might change their mood once in a while,” she said recently. “Might have some sleepless nights; but doesn’t make them a murderer.”