February 12, 2013, 7:54 a.m., C.S.T...Midlothian, Texas. It's a cold, overcast and rainy day in North Texas. "Soupy" as some might call it. But never mind the weather, a hero is about to pass by. A man that would make an ordinary man stand in awe of his accomplishments and legend. Not even in his forties yet, he had amassed a following of legendary proportions.
The news was devastating as it began to come in on the wire, last week. Chris Kyle...gone. An American hero that survived four tours of duty in the ravages of the Middle East and had escaped death from the horrors of a "holy war" only to succumb to a mysterious evil in his beloved Texas that still defies explanation.
Chris Kyle was a man's man, a quiet and reserved husband, father, friend and team mate. To millions of Americans, he exhibited the values in a man that are so hard to find these days. But of course, he was a United States Navy Seal. The best of the best, the baddest of the baddest and the group that was called on when the job absolutely had to be done. The SEALS epitomize the very words of George Orwells quote, "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf". Rough men, mean men, men that will jump on a grenade in a moment's notice to protect the the lives of "the team". Yes, he was one of the elite.
Chris, on the battlefield and off, was that kind of man. In battle, no one instilled more fear in the enemy and because of that, they bestowed upon him the name, "Devil of Ramadi" because of his reputation as the deadliest US sniper in American history. But off the battlefield, Chris was a kind and giving man. He volunteered tirelessly for the Wounded Warrior Foundation, gave all of the proceeds of his book "American Sniper" to charity and would undoubtedly be very embarrassed by the attention he's received after his untimely death.
But Chris, shipmate, you deserve all of this and more. Just like all of the other American heroes here and abroad, that are laying down their lives each and every day, so we can line the highways and byways for 200 miles to see you laid to rest and to ensure your legacy is intact. Your legacy in Texas will be remembered alongside of those like names like Sam Houston, Stephan F. Austin, Roy Benavidez, Dorie Miller, Audie Murphy and so many more.
The procession suddenly appeared off to my left on 14th Street as the roar of Harley Davidson engines from the Department of Public Safety, a DPS helicopter circling overhead, with an officer sitting, strapped into the open door of the modified war machine filled the air. The squad cars rolled by, lights flashing brilliantly in the cold, wet, foggy Texas air. Then, there it was...the white hearse. Although there were thousands of bystanders on both sides of the US Hwy 287 service road, not a voice could be heard. The only sounds were the roar of the passing motorcyles, squad cars, buses and SUV's and the dozens and dozens of American and Texas flags snapping and popping in the cold, Texas wind. And yet, as soon as the car appeared, it just as rapidly flew by...Chris was gone. His final trip from his home town of Midlothian, Texas, USA. The caravan of friends, family, team mates and service members proceeded down the embankment off of the service road, onto the main highway, headed south to Interstate 35. I gazed through tear-filled eyes to either side of me at the thousands of people braving the harsh weather to say goodbye to a legend. I can't count the number of those people I saw openly sobbing, holding their hands over their mouths, with eyes shut or the big, strong men, clearing their throats as they dipped their heads to "get something out of their eye". It's ok fellows, if ever there was a time to shed a tear, this is one of those times.
Chris, we will miss you brother and as has been said so many times before, "you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten". Each time I hear the words United States Navy Seal, I will remember your face, your tenacity and your dedication and love of your country.
Chris lived and died by the Navy Seal motto "Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit". I take solice in knowing, there are many more Chris Kyle's out there, ready to lead and follow and that will never, ever quit.
God Bless you Chris Kyle and God Bless America...
"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...