Manning/Dunn Hyde County NC Genealogy

East Carolina Genealogy and more!

Hero's for all time...

"You have never lived until you have almost died, for those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know." 5th Special Forces.

"We Kill For Peace!" MACV-SOG

 

 

 

Roy P Benevidez: Tango Mike Mike (That Mean Mexican): Couldn't Move, So He Spit In The Guy's Face As He Started Zipping Up The Body Bag

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ7968BbMnU&feature=related

Col Robert Howard - Most Decorated Viet Nam

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyI42MO0SjY

 

Audie Murphy, Arlington National

Cemetery (Most Decorated Soldier,

 WWll)

Audie Murphy, Arlington National Cemetery (Most Decorated Soldier, WWll) by Tony the Misfit (back slowly).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alvin C. York

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Upon being asked by a General how he single handedly killed 28 and captured 132 german soldiers Sgt York replied "it was nothing, I just surrounded them"! 

Alvin Cullum York
December 13, 1887(1887-12-13) – September 2, 1964 (aged 76)
York.jpg  MOH WWI.jpg
Sergeant Alvin York
Nickname"Sergeant York"
Place of birthPall Mall, Tennessee
Place of deathNashville, Tennessee
Place of burialWolf River Cemetery Pall Mall
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
RankCorporal (at the time of Medal of Honor action), Sergeant (at end of war), Colonel (Tennessee State Guard WW II rank)
Unit82nd Infantry Division
Commands held7th Regiment, Tennessee State Guard
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsMedal of Honor
Legion of Honor French
Croix de Guerre French
Croce di Guerra (Italian)
War Medal Montenegro

Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964) was a United States soldier, famous as a World War I hero. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others. This action took place during the U.S.-led portion of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, which was part of a broader Allied offensive masterminded by Marshal Ferdinand Foch to breach the Hindenburg line and ultimately force the opposing German forces to capitulate.[1]

Background

Alvin York was born in Pall Mall, Tennessee, on December 13, 1887,[2] the third of eleven children to Mary Elizabeth Brooks (8 August 1866 - 21 May 1943) and William York (15 May 1863 - 17 November 1911).[3] William Uriah York was born in Jamestown, Tennessee, to Uriah York and Eliza Jane Livingston, both natives of Buncombe County, North Carolina.[4] Mary Elizabeth York was born in Pall Mall, Tennessee, to William Brooks and Nancy Pile, and was the great-granddaughter of Coonrod Pile, an English settler who settled Pall Mall in Tennessee. William York and Mary Brooks married on December 25, 1881, and had eleven children. The York siblings are, in order: Henry Singleton, Joseph Marion, Alvin Cullum, Samuel John, Albert, Hattie, George Alexander, James Preston, Lillian Mae, Robert Daniel, and Lucy Erma.[4] The York family is of English, Irish, Choctaw, and Cherokee ancestry.[5]

The York family resided in the Indian Creek area of Fentress County.[4] The family was impoverished, with William York working as a blacksmith, by which he supplemented the family income. The father and sons of the York family would gather and harvest their own food, while the mother knitted all family clothing.[4] The York children attended school for three months every winter, and spent the spring and autumn tending to the family farm.[4] When William York died in 1911, his son Alvin was the oldest living sibling, and assisted his mother in raising her children and his younger siblings.[4] By all accounts he was very devoted to his family. However, in the few years before the war, York was a violent alcoholic and prone to fighting in saloons. His mother, a member of a pacifist Protestant denomination, tried to persuade York to change his ways, however to no avail. Then during a night of heavy drinking when he and a friend got into a fight with other saloon patrons, York's friend was killed. The event shook York so much that he finally followed his mother and became a pacifist, and stopped drinking. On June 5, 1917, at the age of 29, Alvin York received a notice to register for the draft. From that day until he arrived back from the War on May 29, 1919, he kept a diary of his activities.[6]

York belonged to a Christian denomination, the Church of Christ in Christian Union, which, despite having no specific doctrine of pacificism, discouraged warfare and violence.[7] According to documentation (see image), York did apply for conscientious objector status but was not approved. York's diary, however, states that when documentation reached him in camp for discharge from the Army on the basis of both religious grounds and sole support for his mother, he refused to sign, and disclaimed ever having been a conscientious objector.[8]

World War I

 
Claim of Appeal to being drafted for World War I for Alvin Cullum York.

York enlisted in the United States Army and served in Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, Georgia. Discussion of the Biblical stance on war with his company commander, Captain Edward Courtney Bullock Danforth (1894–1974) of Augusta, Georgia and his battalion commander, Major Gonzalo Edward Buxton (1880–1949) of Providence, Rhode Island, eventually convinced York that warfare could be justified.[2]

During an attack by his battalion to secure German positions along the Decauville rail-line north of Chatel-Chehery, France, on October 8, 1918, York's actions earned him the Medal of Honor. He recalled:

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.[9]

Four non-commissioned officers and thirteen privates under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early (which included York) were ordered to infiltrate behind the German lines to take out the machine guns. The group worked their way behind the Germans and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing a counter-attack against the U.S. troops. Early’s men were contending with the prisoners when machine gun fire suddenly peppered the area, killing six Americans: Corp. Murray Savage, and Pvts. Maryan E. Dymowski, Ralph E. Weiler, Fred Waring, William Wins and Walter E. Swanson, and wounding three others, Sgt. Early, Corp. William S. Cutting (AKA Otis B. Merrithew) and Pvt. Mario Muzzi. The fire came from German machine guns on the ridge, which turned their weapons on the U.S. soldiers. The loss of the nine put Corporal York in charge of the seven remaining U.S. soldiers, Privates Joseph Kornacki, Percy Beardsley, Feodor Sok, Thomas C. Johnson, Michael A. Saccina, Patrick Donohue and George W. Wills. As his men remained under cover, and guarding the prisoners, York worked his way into position to silence the German machine guns.

York recalled:

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.[10]
328th Infantry Regiment of 82nd Division advances in preparation to capture Hill 223 on October 7, 1918.
York, at the hill where his actions earned him the Medal of Honor, three months after the end of World War I on February 7, 1919

During the assault, a group of eight German soldiers in a trench near York were ordered to charge him with fixed bayonets. York had fired all the rounds in his rifle, but drew out his pistol and shot all eight of the soldiers before they could reach him.[11]

One of York’s prisoners, German First Lieutenant Paul Jürgen Vollmer (who spoke fluent English) of 1st Battalion, 120th Württemberg Landwehr Regiment[12], emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered to surrender the unit to York, who gladly accepted. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. His actions silenced the German machine guns and were responsible for enabling the 328th Infantry to renew its attack to capture the Decauville Railroad.[13]

York was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism, but this was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented to York by the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. Pershing. The French Republic awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor. Italy and Montenegro awarded him the Croce di Guerra and War Medal, respectively.

York was a corporal during the action. His promotion to sergeant was part of the honor for his valor. Of his deeds, York said to his division commander, General George B. Duncan, in 1919: "A higher power than man power guided and watched over me and told me what to do."

Medal of Honor citation

Citation:

After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.[14]

Post-war life

York after World War I

On June 7, 1919, York and Gracie Williams were married by Tennessee Governor Albert H. Roberts. They had seven children, most named after American historical figures: five sons (Alvin Cullum, Jr.; Edward Buxton; Woodrow Wilson; Andrew Jackson; and Thomas Jefferson) and two daughters (Betsy Ross and Mary Alice).[15]

York founded the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute, a private agricultural school in Jamestown, Tennessee, that was eventually turned over to the State of Tennessee. The school, now known as Alvin C. York Institute, is the only fully state-funded public high school in the State of Tennessee. The school is a nationally recognized school of excellence and boasts the highest high school graduation percentage in the state. It is home to almost 800 students.

York also opened a Bible school, and later operated a mill in Pall Mall on the Wolf River.

During World War II he attempted to re-enlist in the Infantry but was denied because of age. Instead he went on bond tours and made personal appearances to support the war effort. He convinced the state of the need for a reserve force at home and was active in the creation of the Tennessee State Guard in 1941, in which he served as a Colonel and Commanding Officer of the 7th Infantry Regiment. He was also involved with recruiting and war bond drives as well as inspection tours of American soldiers in training.

Alvin York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall.[16] His funeral sermon was delivered by Richard G. Humble, General Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. Humble also preached Mrs. York's funeral in 1984.

Honors and awards

Military awards

Ribbon-MOH.jpgUS-DSC-RIBBON.pngWorld War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svgWorld War II Victory Medal ribbon.svgLegion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg
Croix de guerre 1914-1918 with palm.jpgCroce di guerra al valor militare BAR.svgOrder of Prince Danilo I of Montenegro ribbon.jpg

Honors

Alvin C. York Veterans Hospital
Located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Alvin C. York Institute
Founded as a private agricultural high school in 1926 by Alvin York and residents of Fentress County, the school became public in 1937 because of the Depression and continues to serve as Jamestown's high school.
1941 film
York's story was told in the 1941 movie Sergeant York, with Gary Cooper in the title role. York refused to authorize a film version of his life story unless he received a contractual guarantee that Cooper would be the actor to portray him. Cooper won the Academy Award for Best Actor and the film was the highest-grossing picture of 1941.[17]
York Avenue, NYC
York Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was named for the Sergeant in 1928.[18]
M-247 (DIVAD weapon system)
In the 1980s, the United States Army named its DIVAD weapon system "Sergeant York"; the project was cancelled because of technical problems and massive cost overruns.[19]
U.S. Postal Service Distinguished Soldiers stamp
On May 5, 2000, the United States Postal Service issued the "Distinguished Soldiers" stamps, in which York was honored.[20]
Laura Cantrell song
Laura Cantrell's song "Old Downtown" mentions York in depth.[21]
President Reagan funeral procession
The riderless horse in the funeral procession of President Ronald Reagan was named Sergeant York.[22]
82nd Airborne theater
The 82nd Airborne Division's movie theater at Fort Bragg, North Carolina is named York Theater.[23]
Sergeant York Historic Trail
"The Sergeant York Historic Trail is being constructed under the supervision of LTC Douglas Mastriano and the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition in the Argonne,
Inauguration of Trail and Monument on October 4th 2008
so that all visitors to the Argonne can walk where York walked. Boy Scout troops have already started work on the trail. All French officials in the region approved the trail and the locations of markers. A large dedication ceremony will be done on the spot of York's feat in a date TBD. A large contingent from the French military and the U.S. Army are expected."[24][25]
Football trophy
The traveling American football trophy between Austin Peay, UT Martin, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech is called the Alvin C. York trophy.[26]
229th Military Intelligence Battalion hall
The 229th U.S. Army Military Intelligence Battalion, Alpha Company, Monterey, California, dedicated their soldiers' hall in honor of Sgt. York. Col. Gerald York (U.S. Army, retired, grandson of Alvin York) officiated at the dedication ceremony.[citation needed]
Sergeant Alvin C. York Statue
A monumental statue of York by sculptor Felix de Weldon was placed on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol in 1968.
Alvin C. York Memorial
A modest bronze helmet rests atop a stone flag on the grounds of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. A poem on this monument is dedicated to York.

 

David Hackworth 

Most Decorated - Korea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David H. Hackworth
November 11, 1930(1930-11-11) – 4 May 2005 (aged 74)
David Hackworth.JPG
Hackworth in Zagreb, Croatia, December 1995
NicknameHack
Place of birthCalifornia
Place of deathTijuana, Mexico
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1945–1971
RankColonel
Unit88th Infantry Division
25th Infantry Division
40th Infantry Division
101st Airborne Division
Commands heldTiger Force
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross (2)
Silver Star (10)
Legion of Merit (4)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star with "V" Device (8)
Purple Heart (8)
Air Medal (33)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Other workRestaurateur
author
journalist

David Haskell Hackworth (November 11, 1930 – May 4, 2005) known also as "Hack", was a highly decorated United States Army colonel and prominent military journalist. During his time as a journalist, Hackworth investigated many subjects, including an assertion into the accused improper wearing of ribbons and devices by Admiral Mike Boorda, an investigation which is speculated to have driven Boorda to committing suicide.

Hackworth is also known for his role in the creation and command of Tiger Force, a military unit formed during the Vietnam War to apply guerilla warfare tactics to the fight against Vietnamese guerrillas.

Early life and entrance into the military

Hackworth joined the U.S. Merchant Marine at age 14, towards the end of World War II, when teenagers routinely entered the armed services before their 18th birthday. After the war, he lied about his age again to enlist in the United States Army. He was assigned as a rifleman to the 351st Infantry, 88th Infantry Division, and stationed on occupation duty in Trieste. His unit, part of TRUST (Trieste United States Troops), at times served under British command, and his duty as a private gave him many of the lessons that he would later draw on as a non-commissioned officer and as a commissioned officer, including his belief that U.S. units should never be placed under operational control of foreign militaries. It was under the tutelage of Sergeant Steve Prazenka that Hackworth would learn the value of hard training and the quest for perfection. In the Korean War he became a Sergeant, volunteering again for service.[1]

In Korea, Hackworth fought with the 25th Recon Company, the 8th Rangers, and then the 27th Infantry (Wolfhound) Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division (Light), earning a battlefield commission as a lieutenant and several medals for valor along with multiple Purple Hearts for being wounded several times. After a successful raid (Hill 1062) and battlefield decoration and promotion to 1st Lieutenant, Col. Sloan (CO 27th Inf Rgt) offered Hackworth a new volunteer Division-level raider unit. Hackworth formed the new 27th Wolfhound Raiders, leading them from August to November 1951. He subsequently volunteered for a second tour in Korea, this time with the 40th Infantry Division. For his bravery in combat, Lieutenant Hackworth was further rewarded with a promotion to the rank of Captain.[1]

Demobilized after the cease-fire in Korea, Hackworth quickly became bored with civilian life after finishing two years of college and reentered the Army in 1956 as a Captain.

Interwar service

Captain David Hackworth returned to the Army- the expanding "Cold War" model U.S. Army, which had changed substantially from the army he had known. Initially posted to 77th antiaircraft artillery battalion in Manhattan Beach, California, Hackworth was eventually assigned to Germany, initially in staff roles but returning to infantry in the early 1960s as an Infantry company commander under Colonel Glover S. Johns, and learned a great deal of the skills that were needed to be an effective officer from this veteran. He was involved in a number of fire drills around the Berlin Crisis of 1961, and his exploits at the time were rivaled only by the loyalty of his troops and the growth in his leadership skills and style. He recounted his experiences with the Russian guard and his views on military history in his book About Face.

Vietnam service

When President Kennedy announced that a large advisory team was being sent to South Vietnam, Hackworth immediately volunteered for service. His request was denied, on the grounds that he had "too much" combat experience for the mission.[1]

In 1965, he deployed to Vietnam as a Major. He served as an operations officer and battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division. He quickly developed a reputation as an eccentric but effective soldier, becoming a public figure in several books authored by General S.L.A. "Slam" Marshall. Following a stateside tour at the Pentagon and promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, Hackworth co-wrote "The Vietnam Primer" with Marshall after returning to Vietnam in the winter of 1966-67 on an Army-sponsored tour with the famous historian and commentator. The book adopted some of the same tactics as Mao Zedong and Che Guevara and the Viet Cong in fighting guerrillas. Hackworth described the strategy as "out-G-ing the G." His personal and professional relationship with Marshall soured as Hackworth became suspicious of his methods and motivation.[1]

However, both his assignment with "Slam" Marshall and his time on staff duty at the Pentagon soured Hackworth on the Vietnam War. One aspect of the latter required him to publicly defend the U.S. position on the war in a speaking tour. Even with his reservations concerning the conflict, he refused to resign, feeling it was his duty as a field grade officer to wage the campaign as best he could.

Hackworth was assigned to a training battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington, and then returned to Vietnam to lead elements of the 9th Infantry Division, turning his theories about guerrilla warfare and how to counter it into practice with the 4/39 Infantry in the Mekong Delta, an under performing unit made up largely of conscripts which Hackworth transformed into the counterinsurgent "Hardcore" Battalion (Recondo) from January to late May 1969.

Hackworth next served as a senior military adviser to the South Vietnamese. His view that the U.S. Army was not learning from its mistakes, and that South Vietnamese ARVN officers were essentially corrupt, created friction with Army leadership.

In early 1971, Lieutenant Colonel David Hackworth was promoted to the rank of colonel, and received orders to attend the Army War College. Hackworth received another opportunity to attend the war college as he had turned down a previous opportunity to go there. Colonel Hackworth was being groomed for bigger and better things, but he had no desire to become a General Officer and declined once again to go to the war college and would soon become totally fed up with the system, not to mention the war in Vietnam.

Hackworth's dissatisfaction ultimately culminated in a television interview with ABC. On June 27, 1971 he appeared on the program Issues and Answers and strongly criticized U.S. commanders in Vietnam, said the war could not be won and called for U.S. withdrawal. The interview enraged senior U.S. Army officers at The Pentagon. He soon found himself ostracized in the defense establishment.

Hackworth was nearly court-martialed for various infractions such as running a brothel for his troops in Vietnam[2], running gambling houses, and exploiting his position for personal profit by manipulating U.S. currency[2]. At the same time, he was experiencing personal problems that resulted in divorce. He was allowed to retire, in order to avoid a court martial[2], at the rank of colonel, and in an effort to rebuild his life, Hackworth moved to Australia.

Hackworth, the businessman

Settling on the Australian Gold Coast near Brisbane, Hackworth soon made a fortune through profitable real estate investing, a lucrative duck farm, and a popular restaurant called Scaramouche. He was also active in the Australian anti-nuclear movement.

Hackworth, the journalist

Hackworth returned to the U.S. in the mid-1980s and began working as a contributing editor on defense issues for Newsweek. He also made regular television appearances to discuss various military-related topics, and the shortcomings of the military. His commentary on the psychological effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, based on his own experiences in overcoming the disorder, resonated with disabled veterans.

In the mid-1990s, Hackworth investigated Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, then Chief of Naval Operations. Hackworth, through his Newsweek articles, questioned Boorda's wearing of potentially unauthorized V ( for valor) devices on his Navy Achievement Medal and Navy Commendation Medal, generating much controversy. Boorda committed suicide before he could be interviewed by Hackworth. Hackworth appeared on countless televisions and radio talk shows and formed his own website, Soldiers for the Truth, continuing to be the self-proclaimed voice of the "grunts" until his death.

King Features Syndicate distributed Hackworth's weekly column "Defending America." Many of his columns discussed the War on Terrorism and the Iraq War and were concerned with the policies of the American leadership in conducting the wars, as well as the conditions of the soldiers serving. Hackworth continued the column until his death from bladder cancer in May 2005. Associates believe that his cancer was caused by exposure to Agent Blue[3] (a defoliant used in Vietnam), and are lobbying the United States government to have the substance labelled a known carcinogen like the more famous Agent Orange.

Hackworth died on May 4, 2005 at the age of 74 in Tijuana, Mexico. He is survived by his wife, Eilhys England, a stepdaughter, and four children from his two previous marriages. His remains were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Military decorations

Hackworth earned over ninety decorations, including numerous individual citations for valor as well as unit citations earned by units he served in or commanded. He was proudest of his Combat Infantryman Badge, which he frequently wore on the lapel of his civilian sportsjackets in retirement.

Individual decorations and service medals

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Cross (with oak leaf cluster)[8]
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star (with one silver and four oak leaf clusters)[8]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters)[8]
Distinguished Flying Cross[8]
V
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star (with 1 silver and one gold oak leaf cluster and Valor Device)[8]
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart (with one silver oak Leaf Cluster & two oak leaf clusters)[8]
V
Air Medal (with Valor Device & Numeral 34, one for heroism and 33 for aerial achievement)[8]
V
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal (with Valor Device & 3 oak leaf clusters)[8]

Unit awards

Badges and tabs

Foreign awards

World War II Merchant Marine awards

COLONEL DON CONROY'S EULOGY by his son, Pat Conroy.

The children of fighter pilots tell different stories than other kids do. None of our fathers can write a will or sell a life insurance policy or fill out a prescription or administer a flu shot or explain what a poet meant. We tell of fathers who land on aircraft carriers at pitch-black night with the wind howling out of the China Sea. Our fathers wiped out aircraft batteries in the Philippines and set Japanese soldiers on fire when they made the mistake of trying to overwhelm our troops on the ground.

Your dads ran the barber shops and worked at the post office and delivered the packages on time and sold the cars, while our dads were blowing up fuel depots near Seoul, were providing extraordinarily courageous close air support to the beleaguered Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and who once turned the Naktong River red with blood of a retreating North Korean battalion. We tell of men who made widows of the wives of our nations' enemies and who made orphans out of all their children.

You don't like war or violence? Or napalm? Or rockets? Or cannons or death rained down from the sky? Then let's talk about your fathers, not ours. When we talk about the aviators who raised us and the Marines who loved us, we can look you in the eye and say "you would not like to have been American's enemies when our fathers passed overhead". We were raised by the men who made the United States of America the safest country on earth in the bloodiest century in all recorded history. Our fathers made sacred those strange, singing names of battlefields across the Pacific: Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and a thousand more. We grew up attending the funerals of Marines slain in these battles. Your fathers made communities like Beaufort decent and prosperous and functional; our fathers made the world safe for democracy.

We have gathered here today to celebrate the amazing and storied life of Col. Donald Conroy who modestly called himself by his nom deguerre, The Great Santini. There should be no sorrow at this funeral because The Great Santini lived life at full throttle, moved always in the fast lanes, gunned every engine, teetered on every edge, seized every moment and shook it like a terrier shaking a rat. He did not know what moderation was or where you'd go to look for it.

Donald Conroy is the only person I have ever known whose self-esteem was absolutely unassailable. There was not one thing about himself that my father did not like, nor was there one thing about himself that he would change. He simply adored the man he was and walked with perfect confidence through every encounter in his life. Dad wished everyone could be just like him. His stubbornness was an art form. The Great Santini did what he did, when he wanted to do it, and woe to the man who got in his way.

Once I introduced my father before he gave a speech to an Atlanta audience. I said at the end of the introduction, "My father decided to go into the Marine Corps on the day he discovered his IQ was the temperature of this room". My father rose to the podium, stared down at the audience, and said without skipping a beat, "My God, it's hot in here! It must be at least 180 degrees".

Here is how my father appeared to me as a boy. He came from a race of giants and demi-gods from a mythical land known as Chicago. He married the most beautiful girl ever to come crawling out of the poor and lowborn south, and there were times when I thought we were being raised by Zeus and Athena. After Happy Hour my father would drive his car home at a hundred miles an hour to see his wife and seven children. He would get out of his car, a strapping flight jacketed matinee idol, and walk toward his house, his knuckles dragging along the ground, his shoes stepping on and killing small animals in his slouching amble toward the home place.

My sister, Carol, stationed at the door, would call out, "Godzilla's home!" and we seven children would scamper toward the door to watch his entry. The door would be flung open and the strongest Marine aviator on earth would shout, "Stand by for a fighter pilot!" He would then line his seven kids up against the wall and say,

"Who's the greatest of them all?"
 "You are, O Great Santini, you are."
"Who knows all, sees all, and hears all?"
"You do, O Great Santini, you do."

We were not in the middle of a normal childhood, yet none of us were sure since it was the only childhood we would ever have. For all we knew other men were coming home and shouting to their families, "Stand by for a pharmacist," or "Stand by for a chiropractor".

In the old, bewildered world of children we knew we were in the presence of a fabulous, overwhelming personality; but had no idea we were being raised by a genius of his own myth-making. My mother always told me that my father had reminded her of Rhett Butler on the day they met and everyone who ever knew our mother conjured up the lovely, coquettish image of Scarlet O'Hara.

Let me give you my father the warrior in full battle array. The Great Santini is catapulted off the deck of the aircraft carrier, Sicily. His Black Sheep squadron is the first to reach the Korean Theater and American ground troops had been getting torn up by North Korean regulars. Let me do it in his voice: "We didn't even have a map of Korea. Not zip. We just headed toward the sound of artillery firing along the Naktong River. They told us to keep the North Koreans on their side of the Naktong. Air power hadn't been a factor until we got there that day. I radioed to Bill Lundin. I was his wingman. 'There they are. Let's go get 'em.' So we did."

I was interviewing Dad so I asked, "how do you know you got them?" "Easy," The Great Santini said. "They were running - it's a good sign when you see the enemy running. There was another good sign."

"What was that, Dad?"
"They were on fire."

This is the world in which my father lived deeply. I had no knowledge of it as a child. When I was writing the book The Great Santini, they told me at Headquarters Marines that Don Conroy was at one time one of the most decorated aviators in the Marine Corps. I did not know he had won a single medal. When his children gathered together to write his obituary, not one of us knew of any medal he had won, but he had won a slew of them.

When he flew back toward the carrier that day, he received a call from an Army Colonel on the ground who had witnessed the route of the North Koreans across the river. "Could you go pass over the troops fifty miles south of here? They've been catching hell for a week or more. It'd do them good to know you flyboys are around." He flew those fifty miles and came over a mountain and saw a thousand troops lumbered down in foxholes. He and Bill Lundin went in low so these troops could read the insignias and know the American aviators had entered the fray. My father said, "Thousands of guys came screaming out of their foxholes, son. It sounded like a world series game. I got goose pimples in the cockpit. Get goose pimples telling it forty-eight years later. I dipped my wings, waved to the guys. The roar they let out. I hear it now. I hear it now."

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, my mother took me out to the air station where we watched Dad's squadron scramble on the runway for their bases at Roosevelt Road and Guantanamo. In the car as we watched the F-4's take off, my mother began to say the rosary. "You praying for Dad and his men, Mom?" I asked her. "No, son. I'm praying for the repose of the souls of the Cuban pilots they're going to kill."

Later I would ask my father what his squadron's mission was during the Missile Crisis. "To clear the air of MIGS over Cuba," he said. "You think you could've done it?" The Great Santini answered, "There wouldn't have been a bluebird flying over that island, son."

Now let us turn to the literary of The Great Santini. Some of you may have heard that I had some serious reservations about my father's child-rearing practices. When The Great Santini came out, the book roared through my family like a nuclear device. My father hated it; my grandparents hated it; my aunts and uncles hated it; my cousins who adore my father thought I was a psychopath for writing it; and rumor has it that my mother gave it to the judge in her divorce case and said, "It's all there. Everything you need to know."

What changed my father's mind was when Hollywood entered the picture and wanted to make a movie of it. This is when my father said, "What a shame John Wayne is dead. Now there was a man. Only he could've gotten my incredible virility across to the American people." Orion Pictures did me a favor and sent my father a telegram; "Dear Col. Conroy: We have selected the actor to play you in the coming film. He wants to come to Atlanta to interview you. His name is Truman Capote."

But my father took well to Hollywood and its Byzantine, unspeakable ways. When his movie came out, he began reading Variety on a daily basis. He called the movie a classic the first month of its existence. He claimed that he had a place in the history of film. In February of the following year, he burst into my apartment in Atlanta, as excited as I have ever seen him, and screamed, "Son, you and I were nominated for Academy Awards last night. Your mother didn't get squat".

Ladies and gentlemen, you are attending the funeral of the most famous Marine that ever lived. Dad's life had grandeur, majesty and sweep. We were all caught in the middle of living lives much paler and less daring than The Great Santini's. His was a high stepping, damn the torpedoes kind of life, and the stick was always set at high throttle. There is not another Marine alive who has not heard of The Great Santini. There's not a fighter pilot alive who does not lift his glass whenever Don Conroy's name is mentioned and give the fighter pilot toast: "Hurrah for the next man to die".

One day last summer, my father asked me to drive him over to Beaufort National Cemetery. He wanted to make sure there were no administrative foul-ups about his plot. I could think of more pleasurable ways to spend the afternoon, but Dad brought new eloquence to the word stubborn. We went into the office and a pretty black woman said that everything was squared away.

My father said, "It'll be the second time I've been buried in this cemetery." The woman and I both looked strangely at Dad. Then he explained, "You ever catch the flick "The Great Santini? That was me they planted at the end of the movie."

All of you will be part of a very special event today. You will be witnessing the actual burial that has already been filmed in fictional setting. This has never happened in world history. You will be present in a scene that was acted out in film in 1979. You will be in the same town and the same cemetery. Only The Great Santini himself will be different.

In his last weeks my father told me, "I was always your best subject, son. Your career took a nose dive after The Great Santini came out".

He had become so media savvy that during his last illness he told me not to schedule his funeral on the same day as the Seinfeld Farewell. The Colonel thought it would hold down the crowd. The Colonel's death was front-page news across the country. CNN announced his passing on the evening news all around the world.

Don Conroy was a simple man and an American hero. His wit was remarkable; his intelligence frightening; and his sophistication next to none. He was a man's man and I would bet he hadn't spend a thousand dollars in his whole life on his wardrobe. He lived out his whole retirement in a two room efficiency in the Darlington Apartment in Atlanta. He claimed he never spent over a dollar on any piece of furniture he owned. You would believe him if you saw the furniture.

Dad bought a season ticket for himself to Six Flags Over Georgia and would often go there alone to enjoy the rides and hear the children squeal with pleasure. He was a beer drinker who thought wine was for Frenchmen or effete social climbers like his children.

Ah! His children. Here is how God gets a Marine Corps fighter pilot. He sends him seven squirrelly, mealy-mouth children who march in peace demonstrations, wear Birkenstocks, flirt with vegetarianism, invite cross-dressers to dinner and vote for candidates that Dad would line up and shoot. If my father knew how many tears his children had shed since his death, he would be mortally ashamed of us all and begin yelling that he should've been tougher on us all, knocked us into better shape - that he certainly didn't mean to raise a passel of kids so weak and tacky they would cry at his death. Don Conroy was the best uncle I ever saw, the best brother, the best grandfather, the best friend, and my God, what a father.

After my mother divorced him and The Great Santini was published, Don Conroy had the best second act I ever saw. He never was simply a father. This was The Great Santini. It is time to leave you, Dad. From Carol and Mike and Kathy and Jim and Tim and especially from Tom. Your kids wanted to especially thank Katy and Bobby and Willie Harvey who cared for you heroically.

Let us leave you and say good-bye, Dad, with the passwords that bind all Marines and their wives and their children forever. The Corps was always the most important thing.

Semper Fi, Dad
Semper Fi, O Great Santini.

 

Chris Kyle (From Wikipedia)

 

Chris Kyle

Birth name

Christopher Scott Kyle[1]

Nickname(s)

Shaitan Al-Ramadi
The Devil of Ramadi
Legend

Born

(1974-04-08)April 8, 1974
Odessa, Texas, U.S.

Died

February 2, 2013(2013-02-02) (aged 38)
Erath County, Texas, U.S.

Buried at

Texas State Cemetery[2]

Allegiance

 United States

Service/branch

 United States Navy

Years of service

1999–2009

Rank

Chief Petty Officer[3]

Unit

United States Navy SEALs

  • SEAL Team 3, sniper element, Charlie Company (later called Cadillac Company)

Battles/wars

Awards

Silver Star Medal (2)
Bronze Star Medal (Valor; 5)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (1)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)[3][4]

Spouse(s)

Taya Renae Kyle[5]

Other work

American Sniper (2012)
American Gun (2013)

Christopher Scott "Chris" Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013) was a United States Navy SEAL, and proclaimed most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, having accumulated 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills. These numbers are based on individual shooter logs, filled out at the end of a mission, and reported to higher command. Confirmed kills must have a witness.

Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Iraqi insurgents dubbed him the "Devil of Ramadi" and placed a series of ever increasing bounties on his head, purported to have eventually reached the low six figures. He became known by the moniker "Legend" among the general infantry and Marines whom he was tasked to protect. This title initially originated in jest among fellow SEALs following his taking of a sabbatical to train other snipers in Fallujah. He was wounded twice and involved in six IED attacks.

Kyle was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 2009 and wrote a bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, which was published in January 2012. On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas, along with friend Chad Littlefield. The man accused of killing them is awaiting trial for murder. A film adaptation of Kyle's autobiography, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released in December 2014.

Early life

Kyle was born in Odessa, Texas, the son of Deby Lynn (née Mercer) and Wayne Kenneth Kyle, a Sunday school teacher and a deacon.[3][11] Kyle's father bought his son his first rifle at 8 years old, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun, with which they hunted pheasant, quail, and deer.[3] Kyle attended high school in Midlothian, Texas, where he played football and baseball.[12] After school, Kyle became a professional bronco rodeo rider and worked on a ranch, but his profession ended abruptly when he severely injured his arm. After his arm healed, he went to a military recruiting office, interested in joining the United States Marine Corps with a special interest in special operations. Kyle signed up, but was rejected because of the pins in his arm. Kyle met with an Army recruiter next, who told him about the Special Forces and the Rangers. A Navy recruiter told him about the Navy SEALs as he was leaving the recruiting office. After initially being declined, he received a call to BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school). He joined the Navy in 1999.

Career - Military service - Iraq War

Assigned to SEAL Team 3, Sniper Element Charlie, later Cadillac, platoon within the Naval Special Warfare Command, and with four tours of duty, Kyle served in many major battles of the Iraq War. His first long-range kill shot was taken during the initial invasion when he shot a woman approaching a group of Marines with a hand grenade in her hand. An article by CNN reported that the woman was cradling a toddler in her other hand. As ordered, he opened fire, killing the woman before she could attack. He later stated, "the woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her."

Because of his track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named him Shaitan Ar-Ramadi (English: 'The Devil of Ramadi'), and put a $21,000 bounty on his head that was later increased to $80,000. They posted signs highlighting the cross on his arm as a means of identifying him.

In 2008, outside Sadr City, Kyle claims his longest successful shot, after he spotted an insurgent with a rocket launcher near a United States Army convoy at a range of 2,100 yards (1,920 m). As recounted in his book American Sniper, Kyle fired a shot from his .338 Lapua Magnum-chambered McMillan TAC-338 sniper rifle, killing the insurgent from about 2,100 yards away. The fighter was about to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at the Army convoy.

During four tours of duty in Iraq, Kyle was shot twice and caught up in six separate IED explosions. His other weapons included the Mk 11 7.62×51mm NATO semi-automatic sniper rifle, the Mk 12 5.56×45mm NATO Designated Marksman Rifle, Sig Sauer P220 Pistol, M4 carbine and a .300 Winchester Magnum-chambered sniper rifle.

Later life

Kyle left the US Navy in 2009 and moved to Midlothian, Texas, with his wife, Taya, and two children. He was president of Craft International, a tactical training company for the US military and law enforcement communities.

In 2012, HarperCollins released Kyle's autobiographical book American Sniper. Kyle had initially hesitated to write the book but was persuaded to move forward because other books about SEALs were underway. His friend, Marcus Lutrell, had already published books on SEAL Team 10. In his book, Kyle wrote bluntly of his experiences without political correctness; he disputed that the Sunni Awakening stabilized Iraq, saying, "Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table. That is how the world works." In the book and in interviews following, Kyle stated he had no regrets about his work as a sharpshooter, saying, "I had to do it to protect the Marines." American Sniper had a 37-week run on the New York Times bestseller list and brought Kyle national attention. Following its release, media articles challenged some of Kyle's anecdotes. The core of the narrative, however, was widely accepted; "Tales of his heroism on the battlefield were already lore in every branch of the armed forces."

Kyle paired with FITCO Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization which created the Heroes Project to provide free in-home fitness equipment, individualized programs, personal training, and life-coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families, or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 13, 2012, Kyle appeared on the reality television show Stars Earn Stripes, which features celebrities pairing up with a special operations or law enforcement professional who train them in weapons and combat tactics. Kyle was teamed with actor Dean Cain.

Alleged confrontation with Jesse Ventura

In interviews with both the Opie and Anthony Show and Bill O'Reilly in January 2012, Kyle claimed to have punched former Minnesota Governor and Underwater Demolition Team member Jesse Ventura at a bar in Coronado, California, in 2006 during a wake for Mike Monsoor, a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient killed in Iraq. Kyle, who wrote about the alleged incident in one of his books, never mentioned Ventura by name, claiming that Ventura was "bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing (former President) Bush, bad-mouthing America" and had said that the SEALs "deserved to lose a few guys." In a subsequent interview, Ventura denied that he was punched by Kyle, saying he had never even met Kyle nor heard of him. Ventura adamantly denied making any derogatory remarks about the military.

In January 2012, Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle for defamation. After Kyle's death in February 2013, Ventura announced he would continue his lawsuit by adding Kyle's estate as a defendant. Juror selection was completed on July 8, 2014, and the trial began on July 9, 2014, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota. On July 29, 2014, after six days of deliberations, and upon the agreement of both plaintiff and defendant to accept a divided jury verdict where eight or more of the 10 jurors were in agreement, the jury arrived at an eight to two divided verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and awarded Jesse Ventura $1.8 million.

On August 7, 2014, U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle, no relation to Chris Kyle, upheld the jury's award of $500,000 in defamation damages and adopted the jury's advisory award of $1,345,477.25 in unjust enrichment as "reasonable and supported by a preponderance of the evidence". Attorneys for Kyle's estate said that the defamation damages would be covered by HarperCollins' libel insurance. The unjust enrichment award was not covered by insurance and will come out of Kyle's estate assets. Following the verdict, HarperCollins announced it would pull the Ventura story from all future editions of the book.

In a post-trial interview, one juror said that the defense provided a confusing checklist of events, e.g., there were multiple locations of where the alleged punch occurred from defense witnesses and the defense witnesses were under the influence of alcohol at the time the alleged fight occurred. The juror also stated that Kyle's use of a pseudonym for Ventura in the book was to keep it "under wraps" and that if that were true, the juror thought Kyle should have used Ventura's name. Additionally, the juror found it unlikely, based on viewing photographs taken in the days after the alleged punch, that Kyle, over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, over 200 pounds (90 kg) and in top physical shape, could have punched Ventura, who shows bruises easily from taking blood thinners, knocked him to the ground, and not leave a mark on his face.

On September 4, 2014, attorneys for Taya Kyle as executor of the estate of Chris Kyle, filed a motion with the District Court for renewed judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. On September 26, 2014, attorneys for Ventura filed their reply to motions from Kyle's estate that contended Ventura had proven Kyle's story was "materially false", that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find "actual malice", and that there should not be a new trial. Attorneys for Taya Kyle, as executor of Chris Kyle's estate, on October 3, 2014, filed a reply to Ventura's response to the motions. This motion had to be ruled on before an appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals can be filed. On November 25, 2014, Judge Kyle, in a 24-page order, denied all the motions from the estate of Chris Kyle, and wrote: "CONCLUSION At bottom, the Court concludes Defendant received a fair trial and that the jury's verdicts were supported by substantial evidence. Defendant is obviously disappointed in those verdicts, but her disappointment does not lay a foundation for a new trial or for judgment as a matter of law. Having found all of Defendant's arguments wanting, and based on all the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or New Trial (Doc. No. 404) is DENIED." On December 23, 2014, attorneys for Taya Kyle, as executor of Chris Kyle's estate, filed notice of intent to appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Case Number 14-3876.

On December 16, 2014, Jesse Ventura filed a second lawsuit against HarperCollins over Kyle's book American Sniper. According to news reports, Ventura's new lawsuit claims that publicity created by Kyle's telling of the incident “increased sales” and generated “millions of dollars [in sales] for HarperCollins.”

Death

On Saturday, February 2, 2013, Kyle and a companion, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas,[45] by 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh, whom Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken to the gun range in an effort to help him with what they were told by his mother was PTSD.

Local police captured Routh after a short freeway chase, which ended when Routh, who had left the scene of the shootings in Kyle's Ford F-350 truck, crashed into a police cruiser. Routh was arrested just before 9 pm the same day in Lancaster, Texas. Erath County sheriffs said the motive for the killing was unclear. Routh, from Lancaster, was arraigned February 2, 2013, on two counts of capital murder, according to Sergeant Lonny Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was taken to the Erath County Jail for holding under a $3 million bond. Routh's trial was set to begin May 5, 2014, but was delayed to allow more time to comply with DNA test requirements.

A memorial service was held for Kyle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on February 11, 2013. Kyle was buried on February 12, 2013, in Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas, after a funeral procession from Midlothian, Texas, to Austin, stretching over 200 miles. Hundreds of local and out-of-state residents lined Interstate 35 to view the procession and pay their final respects to Kyle.

 

 interest in special operations. Kyle signed up, but was rejected because of the pins in his arm. Kyle met with an Army recruiter next, who told him about the Special Forces and the Rangers. A Navy recruiter told him about the Navy SEALs as he was leaving the recruiting office. After initially being declined, he received a call to BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school). He joined the Navy in 1999.

Career - Military service - Iraq War

Assigned to SEAL Team 3, Sniper Element Charlie, later Cadillac, platoon within the Naval Special Warfare Command, and with four tours of duty, Kyle served in many major battles of the Iraq War. His first long-range kill shot was taken during the initial invasion when he shot a woman approaching a group of Marines with a hand grenade in her hand. An article by CNN reported that the woman was cradling a toddler in her other hand. As ordered, he opened fire, killing the woman before she could attack. He later stated, "the woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her."

Because of his track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named him Shaitan Ar-Ramadi (English: 'The Devil of Ramadi'), and put a $21,000 bounty on his head that was later increased to $80,000. They posted signs highlighting the cross on his arm as a means of identifying him.

In 2008, outside Sadr City, Kyle claims his longest successful shot, after he spotted an insurgent with a rocket launcher near a United States Army convoy at a range of 2,100 yards (1,920 m). As recounted in his book American Sniper, Kyle fired a shot from his .338 Lapua Magnum-chambered McMillan TAC-338 sniper rifle, killing the insurgent from about 2,100 yards away. The fighter was about to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at the Army convoy.

During four tours of duty in Iraq, Kyle was shot twice and caught up in six separate IED explosions. His other weapons included the Mk 11 7.62×51mm NATO semi-automatic sniper rifle, the Mk 12 5.56×45mm NATO Designated Marksman Rifle, Sig Sauer P220 Pistol, M4 carbine and a .300 Winchester Magnum-chambered sniper rifle.

Later life

Kyle left the US Navy in 2009 and moved to Midlothian, Texas, with his wife, Taya, and two children. He was president of Craft International, a tactical training company for the US military and law enforcement communities.

In 2012, HarperCollins released Kyle's autobiographical book American Sniper. Kyle had initially hesitated to write the book but was persuaded to move forward because other books about SEALs were underway. His friend, Marcus Lutrell, had already published books on SEAL Team 10. In his book, Kyle wrote bluntly of his experiences without political correctness; he disputed that the Sunni Awakening stabilized Iraq, saying, "Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table. That is how the world works." In the book and in interviews following, Kyle stated he had no regrets about his work as a sharpshooter, saying, "I had to do it to protect the Marines." American Sniper had a 37-week run on the New York Times bestseller list and brought Kyle national attention. Following its release, media articles challenged some of Kyle's anecdotes. The core of the narrative, however, was widely accepted; "Tales of his heroism on the battlefield were already lore in every branch of the armed forces."

Kyle paired with FITCO Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization which created the Heroes Project to provide free in-home fitness equipment, individualized programs, personal training, and life-coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families, or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 13, 2012, Kyle appeared on the reality television show Stars Earn Stripes, which features celebrities pairing up with a special operations or law enforcement professional who train them in weapons and combat tactics. Kyle was teamed with actor Dean Cain.

Alleged confrontation with Jesse Ventura

In interviews with both the Opie and Anthony Show and Bill O'Reilly in January 2012, Kyle claimed to have punched former Minnesota Governor and Underwater Demolition Team member Jesse Ventura at a bar in Coronado, California, in 2006 during a wake for Mike Monsoor, a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient killed in Iraq. Kyle, who wrote about the alleged incident in one of his books, never mentioned Ventura by name, claiming that Ventura was "bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing (former President) Bush, bad-mouthing America" and had said that the SEALs "deserved to lose a few guys." In a subsequent interview, Ventura denied that he was punched by Kyle, saying he had never even met Kyle nor heard of him. Ventura adamantly denied making any derogatory remarks about the military.

In January 2012, Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle for defamation. After Kyle's death in February 2013, Ventura announced he would continue his lawsuit by adding Kyle's estate as a defendant. Juror selection was completed on July 8, 2014, and the trial began on July 9, 2014, in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota. On July 29, 2014, after six days of deliberations, and upon the agreement of both plaintiff and defendant to accept a divided jury verdict where eight or more of the 10 jurors were in agreement, the jury arrived at an eight to two divided verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and awarded Jesse Ventura $1.8 million.

On August 7, 2014, U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle, no relation to Chris Kyle, upheld the jury's award of $500,000 in defamation damages and adopted the jury's advisory award of $1,345,477.25 in unjust enrichment as "reasonable and supported by a preponderance of the evidence". Attorneys for Kyle's estate said that the defamation damages would be covered by HarperCollins' libel insurance. The unjust enrichment award was not covered by insurance and will come out of Kyle's estate assets. Following the verdict, HarperCollins announced it would pull the Ventura story from all future editions of the book.

In a post-trial interview, one juror said that the defense provided a confusing checklist of events, e.g., there were multiple locations of where the alleged punch occurred from defense witnesses and the defense witnesses were under the influence of alcohol at the time the alleged fight occurred. The juror also stated that Kyle's use of a pseudonym for Ventura in the book was to keep it "under wraps" and that if that were true, the juror thought Kyle should have used Ventura's name. Additionally, the juror found it unlikely, based on viewing photographs taken in the days after the alleged punch, that Kyle, over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, over 200 pounds (90 kg) and in top physical shape, could have punched Ventura, who shows bruises easily from taking blood thinners, knocked him to the ground, and not leave a mark on his face.

On September 4, 2014, attorneys for Taya Kyle as executor of the estate of Chris Kyle, filed a motion with the District Court for renewed judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. On September 26, 2014, attorneys for Ventura filed their reply to motions from Kyle's estate that contended Ventura had proven Kyle's story was "materially false", that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find "actual malice", and that there should not be a new trial. Attorneys for Taya Kyle, as executor of Chris Kyle's estate, on October 3, 2014, filed a reply to Ventura's response to the motions. This motion had to be ruled on before an appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals can be filed. On November 25, 2014, Judge Kyle, in a 24-page order, denied all the motions from the estate of Chris Kyle, and wrote: "CONCLUSION At bottom, the Court concludes Defendant received a fair trial and that the jury's verdicts were supported by substantial evidence. Defendant is obviously disappointed in those verdicts, but her disappointment does not lay a foundation for a new trial or for judgment as a matter of law. Having found all of Defendant's arguments wanting, and based on all the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or New Trial (Doc. No. 404) is DENIED." On December 23, 2014, attorneys for Taya Kyle, as executor of Chris Kyle's estate, filed notice of intent to appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Case Number 14-3876.

On December 16, 2014, Jesse Ventura filed a second lawsuit against HarperCollins over Kyle's book American Sniper. According to news reports, Ventura's new lawsuit claims that publicity created by Kyle's telling of the incident “increased sales” and generated “millions of dollars [in sales] for HarperCollins.”

Death

On Saturday, February 2, 2013, Kyle and a companion, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas,[45] by 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh, whom Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken to the gun range in an effort to help him with what they were told by his mother was PTSD.

Local police captured Routh after a short freeway chase, which ended when Routh, who had left the scene of the shootings in Kyle's Ford F-350 truck, crashed into a police cruiser. Routh was arrested just before 9 pm the same day in Lancaster, Texas. Erath County sheriffs said the motive for the killing was unclear. Routh, from Lancaster, was arraigned February 2, 2013, on two counts of capital murder, according to Sergeant Lonny Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was taken to the Erath County Jail for holding under a $3 million bond. Routh's trial was set to begin May 5, 2014, but was delayed to allow more time to comply with DNA test requirements.

A memorial service was held for Kyle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on February 11, 2013. Kyle was buried on February 12, 2013, in Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas, after a funeral procession from Midlothian, Texas, to Austin, stretching over 200 miles. Hundreds of local and out-of-state residents lined Interstate 35 to view the procession and pay their final respects to Kyle.