|REEL FACE:||REAL FACE:|
Born: January 5, 1975
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born: April 8, 1974
Birthplace: Odessa, Texas, USA
Death: February 2, 2013, Erath County, Texas, USA (gunshot)
Born: December 28, 1981
New York City, New York, USA
Born: September 4, 1974
Birthplace: Gladstone, Oregon, USA
Born: January 21, 1984
Dayton, Ohio, USA
Born: March 20, 1978
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, USA
Death: August 2, 2006, Ramadi, Iraq (KIA, hit by enemy fire)
Born: July 8, 1986
Dallas, Texas, USA
Ryan "Biggles" Job
Born: March 11, 1981
Birthplace: Issaquah, Washington, USA
Death: September 24, 2009, Phoenix, Arizona, USA (complications from facial reconstructive surgery)
Kevin "Dauber" Lacz
Born: December 26, 1981
Middlefield, Connecticut, USA
Kevin "Dauber" Lacz
Born: December 26, 1981
Birthplace: Middlefield, Connecticut, USA
Born: November 8, 1978
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Born: January 25, 1978
Birthplace: Taylor County, Texas, USA
Born: May 1, 1965
Bixby, Oklahoma, USA
Born: September 19, 1949
Birthplace: Texas, USA
In researching the American Sniper true story, we learned that by the Pentagon's count, U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle had at least 160 confirmed kills during four tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 (TIME.com). This is the same number that is stated in the American Sniper movie. By his own count and the accounts of his Navy SEAL teammates, the number was likely closer to 255 (Daily Mail Online). Kyle's number well-surpassed the previous American record of 109, which was set by Army Staff Sgt. Adelbert F. Waldron III, who served in Vietnam (Military Channel).
Yes. According to Chris Kyle's memoir American Sniper, he started riding bulls and horses in high school in Texas and entered some small local rodeos, eventually traveling from city to city. He even earned the attention of "buckle bunnies," rodeo's version of groupies. He continued riding after he started college at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, but he had to quit at the end of his freshman year after a bronco flipped over on him in a chute, dragging him and kicking him unconscious. He found himself on a life-flight helicopter and ended up with pins in his wrists, broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and a bruised kidney and lung.
In the movie, Kyle (Bradley Cooper) says he's 30 when he enlists, but the American Sniper true story reveals that the real Chris Kyle reported to the Navy for basic training in February 1999 when he was 24-years-old. -American Sniper book
No. The movie shows Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) applying to join the Navy SEALs after seeing TV coverage of the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Though he did officially enlist in the months following these attacks, they had nothing to do with his decision. Prior to enlisting, he had been working as a ranch hand. "Studying and classes were not my thing," wrote Kyle in his autobiography. "With my rodeo career ended, I decided that I would quit college, stop ranching, and go back to my original plan: join the military and become a soldier." Kyle originally applied for the Navy SEALs in 1996 but was turned down due to the pins in his arm from the rodeo accident. Then, in the winter of 1997-1998, a Navy recruiter called and said that they wanted him in the SEALs program, pins and all.
Chris Kyle was a member of SEAL Team 3. The general public is currently most familiar with SEAL Team 6, who killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. "Originally, you had SEAL Team 1 and SEAL Team 2, and then they formed up this special unit that was called SEAL Team 6," explained Chris Kyle during a 2012 interview with Conan O'Brien. "Since then, so many guys have been coming in, we've been building up the forces, that they started filling in the rest of the numbers. And to go from one of the other SEAL teams to 6, you basically have to go through another boot camp, try out, and go there."
Yes. The couple met in April 2001 at a San Diego bar named Maloney's. Taya describes Chris as a sensitive man who "was always very aware of my feelings. ...he seemed to pick up on how I was feeling, sometimes before I did." -American Sniper book
No. In the movie, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) shoots a boy and his mother who are approaching a U.S. Marine convoy concealing an RKG-3 Russian Anti-Tank Grenade. In the book, a woman does come out of a small house with her child, but she approaches the convoy by herself as she conceals something beneath her clothes. She sets a Chinese grenade, not a Russian RKG. Kyle hesitates shooting the woman but does take the shot. The grenade drops and he fires again as it's exploding. It was "the only time I killed anyone other than a male combatant," writes Kyle. In the book, he indicates that this is his first kill in Iraq.
In his autobiography, Chris Kyle does scope a child at one point. The moment is also depicted in the movie. The combatants had sent the child down the street to retrieve an RPG (in the movie, a nearby boy simply wanders over and picks up the RPG). "I had a clear view in my scope," writes Kyle, "but I didn't fire. I wasn't going to kill a kid, innocent or not. I'd have to wait until the savage who put him up to it showed himself on the street."
Not directly, but he was likely at least in part inspired by Iraqi Shia warlord and executioner of the Sunnis, Abu Deraa. A death squad leader in and around Baghdad, Deraa was known to use a power drill to torture and kill his victims. In the movie, Chris Kyle and his teammates were assigned to take down a terrorist known as "The Butcher," portrayed by actor Mido Hamada. The movie shows The Butcher character imploring Abu Deraa's torturous use of power drills. -International Business Times
Yes. Through our investigation into the American Sniper true story, we confirmed that, like in the movie, Chris and his wife Taya had two children, a boy and a girl, Colton and McKenna, who are a year-and-a-half apart in age (Colton is older).
Yes. Chris's younger brother Jeff was a Marine. He is four years younger than Chris and enlisted a little before 9/11. Like in the movie, he too served in Iraq. In the book, Chris describes going to a house where there were supposedly U.S. prisoners. They couldn't find any but noticed the dirt of the basement floor had been disturbed. After they started digging, they began to uncover the bodies of slain U.S. servicemen. Each time Chris saw a Marine uniform, he feared it would be his brother Jeff. Unlike the movie, the book does not mention Chris's brother cursing the war on a tarmac in Iraq.
Yes. While Chris was partaking in four combat tours, his wife Taya was struggling to raise their two children on her own. At the same time, she lived with constant worry that Chris would not come back alive. When he did come home on leave to visit, he was often anxious and withdrawn. Soon, the war had taken a toll on their relationship, and at one point, Taya contemplated leaving him. "Every single person suffers; every marriage has some major battles," Taya told the LA Times. "Life pulls you in different directions. But if you try and you're lucky, you can find your way back to each other." During her emotional 2013 speech at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, Taya Kyle talked about her husband's difficult decision to leave the Navy SEALs to save their marriage.
No. In the movie, Ryan "Biggles" Job (Jake McDorman) is blinded by Syrian sniper Mustafa. He survives for a short period of time and proposes to his girlfriend while in the hospital. Kyle visits him shortly before leaving for his fourth tour and learns of Ryan's death just after he arrives back in Iraq.
In real life, Ryan was blinded in battle in 2006 when an enemy sniper's bullet struck his rifle, sending pieces of the shattered weapon through his face. He survived much longer than he does in the movie. He was discharged from the military, got married, attended college, got a job, climbed Mount Rainier and Mount Hood, etc. He died in 2009 from complications after going back for more facial reconstructive surgery while his wife was pregnant with their first child. -SeattleTimes.com
Yes, but he holds far less significance in the book, at least in relation to Chris Kyle. In the movie, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) engages in a film-long pursuit of an enemy Syrian sniper named Mustafa (Sammy Sheik), whom the American soldiers refer to as "Kaiser F—in' Söze." In Kyle's autobiography, the enemy Iraqi sniper Mustafa is only mentioned in passing in a single paragraph. He is described as "an Olympics marksman who was using his skills against Americans and Iraqi police and soldiers."
No. In reality, Chris Kyle never actually encountered the enemy Iraqi sniper Mustafa, who he believes was killed by other U.S. snipers. Chris does make a 2,100-yard shot in the book, but it was to take out a random combatant on a rooftop who was about to fire an RPG at an Army convoy. "It was my longest confirmed kill in Iraq," writes Chris, "even longer than that shot in Fallujah."
Yes, the insurgents put a $20,000 bounty on the heads of all snipers, not just Chris Kyle. The bounties did fluctuate and Kyle has stated that they went up to around $80,000. The movie raises the bounty on Kyle's head to a fictional $180,000. During an interview with Conan O'Brien, the real Chris Kyle makes the same joke about the bounty that Bradley Cooper's character makes in the movie, "Well, don't tell my wife. She might take that number right now."
No. In the movie, Bradley Cooper's character uses a satellite phone to call his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and tell her that he is done with war and is coming home. Exploring the American Sniper true story brings to light the fact that in real life, he never made such a call, nor just prior did he kill Mustafa with a near impossible sniper shot from over a mile away (he never encountered the enemy sniper Mustafa).
In real life, Chris Kyle did use the sat phone to call home during lulls in battles or while he was perched in a position on watch. On at least two occasions (once with his wife and once with his father), fighting broke out while he was on the phone. On one occasion while talking to his wife Taya, insurgents attacked the building his team was in. He abruptly put down the sat phone without ending the call. His wife heard most of the firefight, curse words and all. The battery on the phone ran out, and he didn't end up calling her back for two or three days, not realizing he hadn't ended the communication. She was an emotional wreck.
A similar moment is depicted in the movie when the convoy is attacked and Chris (Bradley Cooper) drops the phone while his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) is on the other end. She listens frantically as the ensuing battle unfolds. Unlike the movie, she wasn't revealing the sex of the baby during the real-life call.
Chris Kyle left the Navy SEALs in 2009 in order to save his marriage and to spend more time with his two children, who he had spent very little time with during his years at war. Unlike the movie, he didn't leave the SEALs because the war had become too much for him to bear. As he states in his autobiography, the divorce rate among Navy SEALs is over 90 percent. "When I first got out, I had a lot of resentment," Kyle said. "I felt like she knew who I was when she met me. She knew I was a warrior. That was all I'd ever wanted to do." Taya Kyle talked about her husband's difficult decision during her NRA speech. For a time, Chris started drinking a lot and he let himself go physically. He then made a decision to get his mind right, as he called it. His wife Taya says that he was always on the floor playing with his kids and had wasted no time in making up for the years he had lost with them. He had also come to find his purpose outside of the Navy SEALs, to not just be a good father and husband, but to help other veterans cope with PTSD and to assist them in finding their own purpose in life after combat. -D Magazine
"I loved what I did. I still do," Chris wrote in his autobiography. "If circumstances were different--if my family didn't need me--I'd be back in a heartbeat. I'm not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL."
In a moment not shown in the film, Chris Kyle, 38, and friend Chad Littlefield, 36, were shot to death at a Texas gun range. Chris had been involved in helping soldiers deal with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after they returned from active duty. On February 2nd, 2013, they took fellow Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh, 25, with them to a rifle range in Glen Rose, Texas as part of a therapeutic outing. Routh (pictured below) had been dealing with PTSD and was having difficulty adjusting to postwar life. After shooting both Kyle and Littlefield, he fled in Kyle's Ford F-350 truck. -LA Times
"It was like watching Chris in many, many ways," says Taya Kyle of the film. "I walked away in awe. The spirit and the heart, Bradley captured all of that. ... Chris's life was inspiring, and I think that the movie is one more way for him to serve" (American Sniper Featurette). "...whether you see Sienna or you see me up on the screen, it doesn't really matter. If people get the hardships, that's enough. If there's one other person who is married to a first-responder and sees the film and feels a little less alone, I'll be happy" (LA Times).
Prior to filming, Taya lent actor Bradley Cooper stacks of photos and emails that she had exchanged with her late husband during his four combat tours. -LA Times
Yes. He survived three gunshot wounds, two helicopter crashes, six IED attacks and numerous surgeries. -D Magazine
No. Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä shot 542 Soviet soldiers during the Russian invasion of Finland in World War II. -Daily Mail Online
Yes. He says that the guys nicknamed him "the Legend" when he was in Fallujah, around the time of the beach ball incident. Armed insurgents who couldn't swim were trying to cross a river, each of them holding a large beach ball. It was Kyle's job to make sure they didn't make it across. Instead of shooting the insurgents, he shot the beach balls and they drowned (the Marines put some of them out of their misery).
This was also around the time he made an extremely long shot (though not his longest) at approximately 1,600 yards (just under a mile), which he believes might have also contributed to his new nickname. Prior to "the Legend," Kyle had been called "Tex" by his fellow Navy SEALs. According to his memoir, the insurgents had their own nickname for him, al-Shaitan Ramadi—"the Devil of Ramadi." -American Sniper book
In his four combat tours in Iraq, Chris Kyle was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor, among other commendation and achievement medals. -D Magazine
The controversy surrounding Chris Kyle mainly stems from three separate claims that he made, none of which are in the movie. Each has been described below:
Chris said that he shot looters during Hurricane Katrina from the roof of the Superdome:
This story became widely known after it appeared in the June 2013 issue of The New Yorker as part of a profile of Chris Kyle. Apparently, Kyle told the story to some Navy SEAL buddies as they were hanging out drinking in his San Diego hotel room one night in early 2012. A few of them in turn relayed the story to the writer of The New Yorker article. Kyle had told them that in 2005, he and another sniper went to New Orleans during Katrina and picked off thirty looters from the top of the Superdome. When the article's writer, Nicholas Schmidle, contacted the U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, to confirm the story, he was told, "To the best of anyone's knowledge at SOCOM, there were no West Coast SEALs deployed to Katrina." Schmidle then contacted one of Kyle's officers. The SEAL replied, "I never heard that story," adding that it "defies the imagination." -The New Yorker
While on The Opie & Anthony Show to promote his 2012 memoir American Sniper, Kyle said that in 2006, he and Jesse Ventura, who he refers to only as "Scruff Face" in his book, got into a bar fight at McP's Irish Pub & Grill in Coronado, California. The incident apparently occurred after Ventura began talking loudly about his opposition to the war in Iraq. Relatives of fallen SEAL Michael Monsoor, who deliberately fell on his own grenade, were in town for his wake and had gathered at the bar. Kyle said that when he asked Ventura to keep his opinions to himself, Ventura told him that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" guys. Kyle claimed to have then punched Ventura and the former WWF wrestler went down. Kyle then repeated the story during an interview on The O'Reilly Factor.
Jesse Ventura, himself a Vietnam-era veteran of the Underwater Demolition Teams (a precursor to the SEALs), filed defamation charges and the case went to court. Ventura, who denied that the altercation ever took place, did not drop the case following Kyle's 2013 death, causing outrage among Kyle's supporters. In July 2014, the jury ruled in favor of Ventura, who won $1.845 million in damages against Taya Kyle (as executor of the estate of Chris Kyle). -National Review Online
"You pursue a lawsuit for the truth. ... Taya Kyle had all of her attorney fees paid by [the book publisher's] insurance. I did not," Ventura said on CBS This Morning. "I incurred two-and-a-half years of lawyer fees that I have to pay to clear my name, and she had insurance paying everything for her. It was me against an insurance company."
Taya Kyle told Fox News of the $1.845 million verdict, "I think insurance is responsible for $500,000 because of the way the law is written." The book's publisher, HarperCollins, has since removed the passage alluding to Ventura from the book.
In an April 2013 story in D Magazine, Kyle claimed that two men approached him at a gas station on a cold January morning in 2010. The men demanded his keys and wallet. With his hands in the air, he said he quickly studied the men to see which one looked most confident with a gun. Kyle told them he needed to reach into his customized black Ford F350 to get the keys. According to Kyle, he instead grabbed a pistol that was under his winter coat and fired two shots under his left arm, striking man number one twice in the chest. He turned and put two bullet holes in the second man's chest also, killing them both.
Kyle told D Magazine that he waited for the police to arrive. According to Kyle, the officers ran his driver's license and instead of the normal information coming up (name, address, birth date), a phone number for the Department of Defense came up. The police made the call, reviewed the surveillance footage, and Kyle was let go.
The problem with his story is that no surveillance footage was ever made public and the officers who were supposedly there never came forward to back up the story. "I talked to every single law enforcement out there, all the Texas rangers," said journalist Michael J. Mooney, who wrote a book on Chris Kyle, "and there's no evidence whatsoever." Journalists at the The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said that they "checked with the medical examiner's office, which reported no such deaths in Cleburne in January 2009" (The Washington Post). Kyle's account, which could not be confirmed, was then given more credence when fellow Navy SEAL and friend Marcus Luttrell mentioned it in his 2012 book Service: A Navy SEAL at War. Luttrell's own story became the subject of the 2014 movie Lone Survivor, which we also researched.
Gather more intel on the American Sniper true story by watching the videos below. Listen to Chris Kyle discuss the Jesse Ventura controversy. Watch his wife Taya Kyle talk about her late husband's life and death during an NRA speech. Lastly, check out Chris's appearance on Conan.
WATCHWhat is a Confirmed Kill? Chris Kyle Explains Confirmed Kills
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle explains confirmed
kills. He also describes what it was like
to kill someone for the first time. Chris
says that despite being "decent" at
killing, he does not need to do it to
survive. "I'm a better husband and father
than I was a killer."
WATCHTaya Kyle NRA Speech About Husband Chris Kyle
Taya Kyle, widow of Chris Kyle, addresses
the crowd at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum
in Houston, Texas on May 3, 2013. Despite
her husband's life being taken by an
individual wielding a firearm, Taya
reiterates the importance of guns in
protecting oneself and others from harm
and evil, both at home and abroad. Taya
also describes her husband's decision to
leave the military to save their marriage.
WATCHChris Kyle Reveals He Punched Jesse Ventura - Opie & Anthony Interview
In this January 2012 interview on The
Opie & Anthony Show, Navy SEAL sniper
Chris Kyle confirmed that it was former
Minnesota Governor and WWF wrestler Jesse
Ventura who he had punched during a 2006
altercation described in his memoir. After
the Opie & Anthony Chris Kyle
interview, the story was devoured by the
mainstream media, igniting the
controversy. Kyle then confirmed the story
again on The O'Reilly Factor.
WATCHBill O'Reilly Chris Kyle Interview - Punching Jesse Ventura
This January 2012 Bill O'Reilly Chris Kyle
interview on The O'Reilly Factor
followed Kyle's appearance on The Opie & Anthony
Show, when he confirmed that he
had punched former Minnesota Governor
Jesse Ventura in a bar altercation in
2006. Kyle describes the incident to Bill
O'Reilly, saying that Ventura was
"bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing Bush,
WATCHConan O'Brien Chris Kyle Interview
Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle explains some
of the details from his book American
Sniper, including the differences
between the SEAL teams and how he was able
to make a 2,100 yard shot in combat.
During the interview, Kyle also talks
about the $20,000 bounty that was put on
his head and the heads of his fellow
WATCHAmerican Sniper Featurette - Taya Kyle, Clint Eastwood and the Actors
This American Sniper featurette
features Taya Kyle, wife of Navy SEAL
sniper Chris Kyle, reflecting on the
movie. Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper and
Sienna Miller are also featured. The
screenwriter reveals that he turned in the
American Sniper script just two
days before he learned of Chris Kyle's
death. Taya Kyle called him a week later
and told him that if the movie was going
to be made, they needed to do it right.
WATCHAmerican Sniper Movie Trailer
Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper in
American Sniper, the story of
Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S.
military history. The U.S. Navy SEAL is
sent to Iraq to protect his
brothers-in-arms, and his pinpoint
accuracy saves countless lives, soon
earning him the nickname "Legend." After
serving four harrowing tours in Iraq, he
returns home to find that he can't escape
WATCHAmerican Sniper Trailer 2
Clint Eastwood directs Bradley
Cooper as Chris Kyle in
American Sniper, which
tells the story of the most lethal sniper
in U.S. military history. Kyle's pinpoint
accuracy saved the lives of countless
fellow soldiers, earning him the nickname
"Legend." This is the American
Sniper trailer 2, which offers a
glimpse of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper)
both on the battlefield and at home with
his wife Taya (Sienna Miller).