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Christopher Scott "Chris" Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013) was a United States Navy SEAL proclaimed to be the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, having accumulated 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills. These numbers are based on individual shooter logs, filled out at the end of a mission, and reported to higher command. Confirmed kills must have a witness.
Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Iraqi insurgents dubbed him the "Devil of Ramadi" and placed a series of ever increasing bounties on his head, purported to have eventually reached the low six figures. He became known by the moniker "Legend" among the general infantry and Marines whom he was tasked to protect. This title initially originated in jest among fellow SEALs following his taking of a sabbatical to train other snipers in Fallujah. He was wounded twice and involved in six IED attacks.
Kyle was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2009 and wrote a bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, which was published in January 2012. On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas, along with friend Chad Littlefield. The man accused of killing them is awaiting trial for murder. A film adaptation of Kyle's autobiography, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released in December 2014.
Kyle during a book signing at Camp Pendleton in January 2012
|Birth name||Christopher Scott Kyle|
|Nickname(s)||"Chris", "Shaitan Al-Ramadi", "The Devil of Ramadi", "Legend"|
|Born||April 8, 1974
Odessa, Texas, U.S.
|Died||February 2, 2013 (aged 38)
Erath County, Texas, U.S.
|Buried at||Texas State Cemetery, Texas, U.S.|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1999–2009|
|Rank||Chief Petty Officer|
|Awards|| Silver Star Medal (2)
Bronze Star Medal (Valor; 5)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (1)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)
|Spouse(s)||Taya Renae Kyle|
|Relations||Wayne Kenneth Kyle (father)
Deby Lynn Mercer (mother)
|Other work||American Sniper (2012)
American Gun (2013)
While not American, Simo deserves honorable mention on this list. Simo "Simuna" Häyhä (December 17, 1905 – April 1, 2002), nicknamed "White Death" by the Red Army, was a Finnish marksman. Using a Finnish version of the Mosin–Nagant in the Winter War, he acquired the highest recorded number, in any major war, of at least 505 confirmed sniper kills.
Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.
|Born||December 17, 1905
Rautjärvi, Viipuri Province, Grand Duchy of Finland
|Died||April 1, 2002 (aged 96)
|Years of service||1925–1940|
|Rank||Alikersantti (Corporal) during the Winter War, promoted to Vänrikki (Second Lieutenant) shortly afterward|
|Unit||Infantry Regiment 34|
|Awards||Cross of Liberty, 3rd class and 4th class;
Medal of Liberty, 1st class and 2nd class;
Cross of Kollaa Battle
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