If you were in a foxhole and things got tough, Chris Kyle was one person you'd like watching your back.

A former Navy SEAL who became the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, Kyle was a true patriot. Deployed four times to Iraq, he held the record for number of confirmed kills by an American sniper with more than 150. Enemy insurgents gave him the nickname "The Devil of Ramadi."

For his service, he was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor.

His best-selling book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," details his actions against those insurgents from 1999 to 2009.

Last Saturday, Kyle was killed during a charity event at a gun range in Texas. Charged in the shootings is Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine who is believed to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

When asked about the American Sniper book, Kyle once told his interviewer he wrote it because he wanted to be able to let people know about the sacrifices that not only people in the service make, but what their families go through. It also gave him a voice to speak about the comrades who never returned. By getting their story out, it could raise awareness for veterans.

Kyle knew that returning to civilian life was stressful. When you are in the military, he said everything you do is for the greater good but as a civilian, everything you do is for your own good.

He also explained that in the military, soldiers can face life and death every day but after coming home, leaving the service and then hearing people complain about the little things in life, it causes them to ask, "Are you kidding me?"

While growing up, Kyle said he had two dreams - one was to be a cowboy and another was to serve in the military. Those two goals inspired him at a young age and it wasn't long before he excelled at both.

His strong patriotism showed through during a scrape with none other than former professional wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. One story in the book tells how Kyle punched Ventura in a 2006 bar fight over some unpatriotic remarks.

When he decided to try out the military at age 24, Kyle said his initial goal was not to make it as a SEAL, but just get into the military and do the best that he could. After his successes in military and civilian life, he could have easily become cocky but that simply wasn't in his nature. Close friends say he was the same small-town, humble Christian guy they knew in high school.

In trying to help soldiers adjust to a post-service career, Kyle felt that the military trained its men how to become warriors, but not how to get reacclimated once their service careers ended. It's sadly ironic that the greatest sniper in American history would lose his life at the hands of another veteran with a severe anxiety disorder, the kind of individual Chris Kyle had been trying to help.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]