Public mourns death of American military sniper Chris Kyle at Cowboys Stadium
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 00:02
ARLINGTON – Thousands gathered at Cowboys Stadium on Monday to mourn the death of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, 38.
Kyle was killed Feb. 2 after fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh allegedly shot him and Chad Littlefield, 35, while at a shooting range in Erath County, Texas.
Kyle, who gained national notoriety after writing the New York Times bestseller "American Sniper," was an accomplished military sniper and had recorded more kills than any other soldier in American military history.
Iraqi insurgents dubbed him "The Devil of Ramadi" and put a high bounty on his head. Following his honorable discharge from the military in 2009, Kyle had been working with nonprofit groups to help wounded and disabled veterans.
A crowd of nearly 7,000 people, most of whom were Kyle’s friends, family and colleagues painted a picture that gave Dallas the chance to see a more intimate side of the veteran.
Paul Cardaropoli, a serviceman of nearly a decade who attended the memorial ceremony, was moved by the city’s public turnout.
“It meant a lot to me to see this,” Cardaropoli said. “It meant a lot to me to see the overwhelming amount of people that were here. I didn’t expect to see [so many] state police and firemen. I was really amazed.”
After serving in combat from 1989 to 1997, Cardaropoli returned to the states. At that time, he said, no one had ever approached him to thank him for his service. It wasn’t until 2006 when he moved to Dallas that he saw a change.
“In other places, no one shakes my hand. I had never had anyone thank me for my service until living here,” Cardaropoli said.
Monday’s touching ceremony evoked a sense of pride in Cardaropoli. He said he’d never seen a memorial for a serviceman or woman of such magnitude.
Relatives, childhood friends and colleagues of Kyle’s took the stage, which was adorned with flowers, wreaths and a Christian cross that was draped with Kyle’s combat gear, to pay respects.
One of the speakers, who only identified himself as Kyle’s best friend since third grade, recalled Kyle’s character.
“If you didn’t know Chris under his tough-guy exterior, he was a kind, caring, humble and selfless man,” he said. “At home he was no super hero, he was just dad.”
Out of all the speakers, only two identified themselves, a friend and business partner of Kyle’s, Bo French and Kyle’s wife.
French said Kyle had a prankster and fun-loving side and that his “desire to help others was contagious.”
After leaving the Navy in 2009 to spend more time with his family, Kyle’s work that followed exemplified just that.
He founded the Dallas-based security company Craft International and was known for working with wounded veterans, particularly those suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Saturday, Feb. 2 Kyle was shooting with Littlefield and Eddie Ray Routh, who authorities have said was being treated for PTSD.
Although his motive is still unclear, Routh allegedly turned a gun on Kyle and Littlefield at the shooting range.
Routh is said to have fled the scene in Kyle’s car, where he allegedly went to his sister’s house and confessed to the killings. He was picked up and arrested by police that same day in the suburbs of Lancaster.
Littlefield’s funeral will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Midlothian Texas, according to a New York Times report.
Kyle’s body was taken to Austin Tuesday to be buried following a 200-mile procession beginning at 9 a.m.