The memorial service for Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American military history was held this afternoon at Cowboys Stadium, a venue fitting for a man with a larger-than-life presence. As a Navy SEAL sniper, Kyle had 160 confirmed kills; when he returned from the war in Iraq he shifted gears, writing a bestselling memoir, American Sniper, and working as an advocate for veterans. Kyle was allegedly killed by another Iraq War veteran on February 2 at a shooting range near Glen Rose, and his death has become a focal point in the national debate about gun control and post-traumatic stress disorder. On Tuesday, his body will be transported in a 200-mile procession from Midlothian to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Josh Kinser and Chris Kyle fought in the same battles in Iraq, but it was years later when they finally met, face to face, in Texas, where both men have worked with veterans. Kinser first deployed to Iraq in February 2004, and fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah, where Kyle was doing the kind of work that later established his reputation as the “Devil of Ramadi”among the enemy. After that, Kinser saw almost constant fighting as a scout in the Army’s 82 nd Airborne division. After his Humvee hit a homemade bomb and blew apart, Kinser was medically retired with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He now lives in San Antonio and works with the Military Warriors Support Foundation, taking soldiers shooting, hunting, and fishing. He recently spoke with Texas Monthly about PTSD and what Kyle’s murder means to the veteran community.
Texas Monthly: How did you know Chris Kyle?
Josh Kinser: I know for a fact that Chris kept me alive. I have no idea what building he was hiding in in Fallujah while I was running through the streets, but he was there. If it wasn’t me he saved, it was the guy next to me. A lot of guys looked up to him for what he did. Not just because of the number of kills he got, but he was just a good guy and a natural born leader.
TM: What was your transition like, when you came home?
JK: The strangest was the very first time I came home. I took leave after Fallujah. I went straight from the largest ground combat battle since Vietnam to landing in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was just weird. It was weird to see that the grass is green or the roads are