Chris Kyle’s Medals

I've long since stopped trying to correct or comment on the false stories about Chris; it's a fool's errand. I would always suggest people consider the source and the motivation of anything they read or hear instead. However, as I've gotten a number of inquiries from people whom I respect:

Short answer: Believe the book.

Long answer:

When we published American Sniper, we relied on a variety of documents and other people’s memories as well as Chris’s.

The mention in the book of Chris’s awards, specifically two silver stars and five bronze stars with valor, is based on Chris’s memory and his DD214, the official, legal, and accepted document of his military service prepared from the Navy’s own records. I have a copy of the original document; it agrees with the one the Navy has made available and is public.

At some point soon after the book was published, a reporter pointed out that there appeared to be a discrepancy between the military’s centralized awards records and Chris’s personnel records regarding the number of medals he had been awarded. This was the first I heard of it. Neither Chris nor I could determine why there was a discrepancy. At this point, I don’t recall any specifics, whether there were any classified actions, record-keeping procedures, or anything else involved as a possible explanation. So much else happened in that time period and since that quite candidly I’d forgotten all about it until the recent report.

Had the discrepancy been pointed out to me prior to publication, I certainly would have mentioned it in the book. I’m sure Chris – who honestly could have cared less about the medals, as opposed to the lives they represented – would have agreed.

I have not seen the Navy’s medal records and don’t know how they are collected, so I can’t speak to any aspect regarding them. I do know that falsifying the DD214 would be an extremely serious matter, would have involved someone other than Chris, and would have been frankly pointless – I’m not sure anyone would really care how many medals of what variety someone was awarded beyond the first. While he was proud of his military service, Chris did not consider his personal medal count historical or even particularly noteworthy, especially for a Navy SEAL involved in the volume of action he saw. He never bragged about the medals in my presence, or even brought it up.

In any event, I can honestly say that Chris certainly believed what we put in the book matched his memory as well the documents. His word would carry more weight with me than any piece of paper, whether it exists or not.


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