Though Chris Kyle has been lauded as a war hero by the media and the men he served with, documents obtained by the Intercept have shown that he likely exaggerated some of his achievements. According to his autobiography, Kyle received two silver stars and five bronze stars during his 10 year military career. But according to internal military documents, his real record states that he only received one silver star and three bronze stars.
Even stranger are the contents of his DD214 form, which are the separation papers he received upon leaving the military. This document normally gives an accurate representation of what a veteran achieved during his or her service, but in Kyle’s case it stands at odds with both the internal documents and the claims he made in his book. According to his DD214, he received two silver stars and six bronze stars.
At this point, it would be easy to say that these discrepancies are nothing more than a bureaucratic mishap. Perhaps the Navy mixed up some of his papers, or failed to keep track of his medals. According to the Intercept however, his embellishments were an open secret within the Navy SEAL community:
Kyle was warned at least once before American Sniper was published that its description of his medal count was wrong, according to one current Navy officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the case. As Kyle’s American Sniper manuscript was distributed among SEALs, one of his former commanders, who was still on active duty, advised Kyle that his claim of having two Silver Stars was false, and he should correct it before his book was published.
Current and former Navy SEALs interviewed for this article, who agreed to speak on background because they feared being shunned by their close-knit community, did not dispute Kyle’s heroism in combat, but saw the inflation of his medal count as significant because they consider battlefield embellishments to be dishonorable.
Even those in the high command of the Navy SEALs were aware of this. According to a former SEAL officer who attended Kyle’s silver star ceremony, they “didn’t want to correct the record because Kyle’s celebrity status reflected well on the command.”
This of course, is not the first time Chris Kyle’s has been accused of lying. In his autobiography, he claimed to have punched out former governor Jesse Ventura for saying that the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” for their participation in the Iraq War. Ventura eventually sued Chris Kyle for defamation, and the court ruled in his favor shortly after Kyle’s death.
While most of Kyle’s battlefield exploits are either verifiable or at least believable, many of the claims he made have faced heavy scrutiny. His claim that he killed two carjackers in Texas has yet to be verified by any witness or anyone in law enforcement, and his claim that he went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where he killed 30 looters, is now widely regarded as false.
When all of this is taken into account, one must wonder what else this man lied about? Surely as time goes on, more discrepancies in his war record and autobiography will come to light.