Remembering Chris Kyle: The 'American Sniper' killed at Texas gun range at age 38

More than a decade ago, on February 2, 2013, retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was fatally shot along with a friend, Chad Littlefield, at a gun range in north Texas. Kyle was 38 years old when he died.

Former marine Eddie Ray Routh was later convicted of the murder of Kyle and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Family members said Routh suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from serving in Iraq and Haiti.

Kyle was a U.S. Navy SEAL from 1999 to 2009. He is considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history and has had more than 160 confirmed kills during his four tours in Iraq.

During his career, the decorated military veteran was shot twice, survived multiple helicopter crashes and was involved in six IED attacks. 

Chris Kyle holds a .308 sniper rifle in this April 6, 2012, file photo. (Credit: Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Chris Kyle holds a .308 sniper rifle in this April 6, 2012, file photo. (Credit: Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Taya Kyle remembers her late husband

Kyle is remembered as a husband and father who aimed to help other military veterans struggling with PTSD.

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Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, has said that Littlefield and her husband enjoyed spending time with veterans as a way to help them ease back into civilian life. On the 11th anniversary of the murders, she reflected on that day and her belief in God.

"I used to say I could not wait to see Chris in heaven, but maybe that isn’t accurate," Taya Kyle wrote in part in an Instagram post on Feb. 2, 2024. "I can wait because time passes, God heals, and I have a beautiful life here, maybe not despite the pain, but perhaps because of it. I love our Creator with all of me. He makes all the difference."

Remembering the real ‘American Sniper’

Kyle’s career was documented in the bestselling "American Sniper" autobiography and later a blockbuster film. 

The film, which came out in 2014, was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Bradley Cooper. The movie earned six nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture. 

Bradley Cooper attends

Bradley Cooper attends "American Sniper" New York Premiere at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 15, 2014 in New York City. (Credit: John Lamparski/WireImage)

After his death, Kyle was mourned by thousands at a memorial service at AT&T Stadium. Military personnel carried out his flag-draped coffin, while many attendees in the crowd saluted.

Exactly two years following his death, Gov. Greg Abbott declared Feb. 2 as Chris Kyle Day in Texas, where he was raised and lived while serving in Iraq. A year later, Abbott declared the day as "Texas Military Heroes Day."

"We thank all Texans who have served our country," Abbott said on Facebook.

EARLIER: Taya Kyle posts heartfelt message about her late husband on his birthday

In 2015, Abbott presented the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Kyle's wife. It's the state's highest military honor. 

"We can never repay the debt we owe for the lives Chris Kyle saved and the freedom that he helped preserve for the U.S., but we can honor Chris Kyle’s memory, his patriotism, his inspiration, his sacrifice. For his remarkable valor, Chris Kyle is more assuredly deserving of the state's most highest supreme military award," Abbott said.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.