Many people see active and former military members simply as everyday citizens that happen to wear a uniform. However, the under appreciated are often the most important. So too is the case with United States Military Snipers. Snipers, or "marksmen", are the highly trained elite shooters that must provide above-ground support to foot soldiers. In the movie "American Sniper", the main character happens to posses the above elements to his personality.
This movie, which has been in theaters just over a month now, tells the heart wrenching journey of Chris Kyle, a man who simply wants to fight for his country. After stumbling upon the armed forces after a few failed attempts of a professional rodeo career, Kyle quickly ascends himself to a career as a United States Navy Seal Sniper. Although Kyle is only required to serve one tour of duty, he volunteers three extra times, serving four tours in all. That is easily over 1000 days in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The movie goes on to tell that Kyle is also building a family states side. Chris and his wife, Taya, have two children, a girl and a boy. Both births are a bit celebratory since they happen a few months after Chris comes about as close to death as possible, twice. The first instance is when Kyle is setting up shop for a mission on top of a roof and takes an unsuccessful leap of faith by not having the area surveyed first. His assistant gets shot in the upper body, but lives, due to Kyle being able get down and help him to safety. The second incident comes a few years later when the sniper finally avenges the loss of many of his fellow soldiers by shooting down the top sniper from the enemies side, who is presented as the main antagonists throughout the movie. However, by firing the fatal shot that traveled a distance of over one mile, Kyle revealed his crews location to nearby enemy foot soldiers. Being only snipers and not a whole brigade, the crew was surrounded on the roof by at least 50 men. While trying to stave off the certain execution, Kyle and his crew are miraculously saved by a dust storm that swept over the entire area, to the point that seeing even a foot ahead was impossible. The five Americans were able to use this diversion to their advantage and escape.
Close calls not only defined Kyle's career, but it was also the very fabric of what made up his personality and style. In between tours however, he would struggle with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), that some times resulted in times of depression and anxiety. This is significant as the movie explains a lot of at home soldiers also suffer with these same issues and it paints a great insight into how soldiers really have to face these situations.
After too many close calls and finally coming to his senses that he had a family to look after, Kyle retired from the military at the age of 34. The Navy Seal would go down as the deadliest sniper in American history, taking out a confirmed 120+ enemies, easily the most kills by one soldier in United States history. Kyle would eventually gain his sense of surroundings again and return to being the caring, charming and loving husband and father he was remembered for. One of the ways he helped cope with society again was to fire rounds at the local shooting ranges. Soon, he was making a business for helping former solders cope in the same way.
However, in February of 2013, Chris Kyle was shot and killed by a former soldier who was suffering from borderline insanity. He was 38 years old. The movie concludes by showing the real life funeral processions, and it is one of the most moving scenes in film that I could remember, leaving an entirely full theater motionless and silent. It is tragic to think that Kyle died so young, but the impact he made can't be diminished. He truly had a huge historical impact, not only from an international war perspective, but in the lives of everyday people and even military that see his story. The "American Sniper" may have passed on, but his story is still alive and well.