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The Real Legacy of Chris Kyle: A 'True American Hero' Who Devoted His Life to Serving Others

"What do you say about a guy like that?"

Chris Kyle (Source: Erik Tanner for TIME)

Chris Kyle is pictured on a training course for Craft International, the company he started after leaving the Navy. Credit: Courtesy of 5.11, a tactical gear and equipment company

Chris Kyle is a legend among U.S. Navy SEALs, where he earned the reputation as the most deadly sniper in all of American history. The true legacy of Chris Kyle, however, is less well known because it was shaped off the battlefield, outside of the public eye.

This is the legacy of a man who made it his life's mission to help others, giving selflessly to live up to his own personal creed of service to his fellow man. Tragically, Kyle and fellow veteran Chad Littlefield lost their lives in service to that high ideal, shot by a troubled war veteran they were trying to help.

"Chris lived by a professional motto: ‘It is our duty to serve those who serve us.’ And he and Chad died honoring this creed," Kyle's brother, Jeff Kyle, said from TheBlaze's Dallas studio on Monday.

Recipient of two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars With Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals and one Navy and Marine Corps commendation, Kyle served four tours of duty in Iraq where he earned the nickname "the Devil of Ramadi" from insurgents for his deadly accuracy.

He returned home an American hero, and he died a hero. Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35, were killed on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, by a troubled veteran they were reportedly trying to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He wasn't trying to "treat" the troubled vet, he was simply trying to be a brother to a fellow serviceman who was having a hard time. Kyle proudly talked about regularly taking soldiers suffering from physical or emotional issues on hunting trips and other outdoor activities to provide comradery, friendship and support.

Littlefield, also a proud veteran, died selflessly trying to help a struggling veteran and serving alongside his close friend Kyle.

"Chad felt deeply about the values of family, compassion, friendship and loyalty, and was equally as passionate about his love of God and country," read a statement prepared by the Littlefield family. "[He] died supporting his trusted friend Chris Kyle and a troubled veteran."

And while many continue to focus on Kyle's legendary military career, those who knew and loved him remain mystified by his huge heart and selfless character. His brother described him as an "amazing, loving father, husband, son, brother, friend and devout Christian who had a profound effect on the lives of those that he touched."

Instead of retiring and settling down following his service as a Navy SEAL, Kyle dedicated his life to helping struggling veterans. In fact, just days before he died, Kyle told the Texan News Service that he wanted to be remembered as someone "who stood up for what he believed in and helped make a difference for the vets." He didn't brag about his impeccable record as a SEAL, how many kills he tallied overseas, or the many lives he ultimately saved.

Above all, he wanted his legacy to be about how he served others.

Listen to what is believed to be Kyle's last interview before his death:

A perfect reflection of his character, Kyle gave all proceeds from his best-selling book "American Sniper" to the families of soldiers killed in combat. He told the Texan News Service that he regularly received tearful calls and thanks from military families.

Chris Kyle (Source: Erik Tanner for TIME)

"That means the world to me," Kyle said in a recent interview. "There’s definitely still a lot of hurt from losing my guys or the fact that I got out and I felt like it wasn’t my time yet…Being able to do this makes me feel like I’m still a part of it and still giving back."

Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell on Monday referred to Kyle as the greatest SEAL he ever had the opportunity to serve with, on and off the battlefield.

"This man went above and beyond the call of duty," he said. "Not only was he a volunteer in the military -- to give service while we were in combat, then he volunteered to be in the SEAL teams, he volunteered again to be in the sniper program. And then once he was discharged, he took all of that energy and started giving back to the veterans that weren't fairing so well."

"What do you say about a guy like that? That's a pretty selfless act," he added. "Not many people have that in their heart...I miss you bro."

Upon returning from the Navy, Kyle also founded Craft International, a military and law enforcement training company, and co-founded the FITCO Cares Foundation and other charitable events benefiting wounded and disabled veterans returning from combat.

He expressed a strong desire to spend more time at home with his wife, Taya, and their two kids, but felt as though he had an obligation to continue giving back to his fellow servicemen and women.

"Chris was a true American hero, having devoted his life to serving his country in combat as a member of the United States Navy SEALs and in training our military and law enforcement personnel after leaving the Navy," Jeff Kyle said on behalf of the Kyle family on Monday. "We're all saddened by his tragic death and America has truly lost one of its finest sons and a true patriot."

Though his life was tragically cut short at age 38, Kyle gave more of himself to others and his country than most people can hope for in an entire lifetime.

Glenn Beck's charity Mercury One has raised more than $128,000 from individuals wanting to honor Kyle. To donate to Mercury One's Chris Kyle fund, click here.

To donate by mail:

Mercury One

PO Box 140489

Irving, TX 75014

Make checks payable to Mercury one but in the memo field please write "Chris Kyle Fund."



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