Feb. 2nd will be marked on my heart forever.
I had the honor of knowing Chris Kyle and calling him a friend.
We met at SHOT Show in the Outdoor Channel office and I simply wanted to shake his hand and tell him “Thank You for your service”. He invited me and a couple friends to attend a VIP party where we got to talk some more. I am very intuitive about those who aren’t comfortable saying what they actually need to transition well, especially warriors. I also tend to ask a lot of questions. I was able to learn more about what was going on with his business and what his hopes and dreams were. As I do for any warrior that I have worked with, I offered some ideas and told him I’d let him know if I found anything that he might like to do. I knew this much, the man needed a vacation with other warriors… and he liked to hunt.
Shortly before he and Chad Littlefield were murdered, I had an opportunity to arrange for him to go on an Elk hunt in Colorado, with combat wounded warriors (pictured above). When he returned, he wrote me saying what a great time he had, thanked me for making it happen and asked;
“How can a washed up old sniper like me do this for a living?”
Like most returning warriors, he needed to be in service to others and was a natural leader to those whose experience he could also understand. It made him feel alive.
Chris was always humble and gracious. I laughed, knowing that with my experience in non-profit start ups, a network of patriots who give selflessly to veteran causes and the endless supply of warriors needing this kind of connection, Chris could finally do exactly what he wanted and be very successful with it! He was never looking for money or fame, he simply wanted to live out his days as an inspiration to his brothers, as they were truly an inspiration to him.
I began the market research, as well as, sending opportunities for licensing deals his way to help keep some money coming in and PR going out. Often, the hardest person to promote is yourself, especially when you are part of a Special Ops community because you are opening yourself up to criticism for doing so. As humble a warrior as he was, he would never self-promote. He wouldn’t even take a cut of his book. He gave the proceeds to the families of those who lost their lives in the SEAL community.
The sky was the limit for our partnership and a new day of hope had begun for both of us, I believe. I was confident that he found what he truly wanted to do and could support his family while doing it. Having the opportunity to work with him, even if only for a short time, was one of the great honors of my career. I’ve heard people say that his family saw a difference in him, after that experience. I am glad I made a positive impact on their lives while he was still with them. That is all we can hope to do for those who have sacrificed so much in service to us. Never forget that the families sacrifice as well!
When I learned of his murder, it was if a wave had crashed down on everything I thought was right in the world at the time. It was so senseless, unexpected in his own backyard, yet we had talked about security and watching his back. He would always be the “Devil of Ramadi” with a bounty on his head. Chris didn’t let that stop him from living and moving about, enjoying life out of the sandbox, as he rightfully should. While he still had a hard time trusting people in general, he also walked around with a sense of safety being on his home land, especially in Texas and with other veterans.
I attended the memorial with his BUDS roommate, along with the friends and family thanks to generous people who made sure we both were able to go on such short notice. We were among true patriots such as; Sarah Palin, Dean Cane, Randy Travis and many other notable folks. There was a ‘sea of SEAL’s he had come to know on his life’s journey and in ritual respect and mourning, laid their tridents on his casket (as pictured). It was heartbreaking to see so many, so hurt.
The elephant in the arena that day was the total disrespect from the Obama Administration. Their lack of attendance and simple acknowledgement of our country’s loss was disgusting. Especially noted by those of us who saw that they showed up to the funeral of a little girl killed by gunfire in Chicago, shortly thereafter. Not that an inner city child didn’t deserve the respect, but it was seemingly a slap in the face to those who expected someone, ANYONE from the White House at Chris’ memorial. It appeared very purposeful and I believe they disliked Chris because of his 2nd Amendment support, large veteran and civilian following and his books. He was a threat to their agenda, plain and simple. It still angers me to think about it.
There are some first hand accounts of his memorial floating around from other attendees which are factually correct. Rather than reiterate their stories, I’ve posted the best on my website and have added my experience here. The Patriotism that was displayed that day by those who attended was awesome. Especially the Patriot Guard armed with tall flags, surrounding the stadium, both inside and out. There was apparently a Westboro showing, but they were run off immediately. I can only imagine the aggressiveness that was shown by these amazing patriots to keep the memorial scum-free.
The streets were lined with people who came out with signs of condolence and support. They stood in the rain to pay their respects as we drove to his final resting place from Dallas to Austin. There were mothers with children (likely taken out of school that day), disabled veterans and elderly in wheelchairs, and everyone in between. It was a picture of HOPE that American idealism and Patriotism is not dead. The press (less Texas) portrayed the opposite by their lack of coverage on the true events of that day. However, those who were there know that we are still a country of Patriots with ideals and powers that are higher then ourselves we answer to. Unity and love poured out for our country and its fallen hero. It moved me more than anything I have ever seen and keeps me in the fight for what is right, to this day. I know this much…
The Jihadists currently threatening to kill our military families or anyone else for that matter, won’t want to see what that looks like if they try to mess with them in person. The shear number of civilian patriots who support veterans are totally underestimated! Anyone threatening their community must realize that they have at minimum, at least 60-100 others to stand behind each of them and we are growing every day, thanks to this movie and our combined efforts. With a community of at least 2% of our population, that’s quite a force to be reckoned with!
It is my calling to help unite those of like mind and network for good. Chris would have wanted that for me and for our country. Whatever we can do, we MUST do. If we cannot DO something then we must GIVE something, to someone who can. There is a lot to be done and we cannot sit silently in fear that something will happen if we do.
Our time is short and their deaths must not be in vain. CHRIS & CHAD – WE WILL NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT!
Join us: firstname.lastname@example.org Our mission is to UNITE in business, action and deed to help those who served to thrive… not simply survive!