ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) - Thousands of people gathered at Cowboys Stadium on Monday to remember former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was killed at a shooting range by an Iraq War veteran he tried to help.
Kyle, 38, was considered the deadliest sniper in American military history. He served four combat tours of duty in Iraq and elsewhere and won two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery, according to his book “American Sniper,” about his military service from 1999 to 2009.
Kyle was shot to death on February 2 at the shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge, an upscale retreat about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas.
His widow, Taya Kyle, who had a son and a daughter with her husband, said that people always told him he was lucky she stayed with him because he was away from home so often. But she and the children were the lucky ones, she said.
“We will put one foot in front of the other and carry on,” she said at the service at the home of the Dallas Cowboys football team.
At the two-hour service, a Navy honor guard carried the coffin, country music singer Randy Travis sang “Amazing Grace” and people from all aspects of Chris Kyle’s life - from a friend since third grade to a fellow Navy SEAL - remembered him as compassionate, selfless and something of a prankster.
A funeral procession is scheduled for Tuesday from the Dallas area to Austin, where Kyle is to be buried.
Eddie Routh, 25, is charged with killing Kyle and his close friend and neighbor, Chad Littlefield, at the gun range and then fleeing in Kyle’s pickup truck. Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to the shooting range to try to help him relax and deal with personal problems, police have said.
Routh was arrested near his home in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster hours after the shooting. He is being held in the Erath County jail on $3 million bail.
After the shooting, Routh drove in Kyle’s truck to his sister’s home in Midlothian, the same suburb where Kyle and Littlefield lived, and confessed to shooting the two men. In a 911 call to Midlothian police, Routh’s sister and her husband told the dispatcher that Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had recently been hospitalized in a mental hospital.
After leaving the Navy, Kyle founded Craft International, a company that provided combat and weapons training to military, police, corporate and civilian clients.
Kyle was the co-author of another book, “American Gun - A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms,” which is scheduled to be published in May.
Editing by Corrie MacLaggan, Greg McCune, Andrew Hay and Dan Grebler