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Comments on American Sniper movie

Posted by John Reed on

Copyright John T. Reed 2015

I decided to see American Sniper after all. I went with a West Point classmate with whom I like to see war movies. We see stuff laymen do not and it’s fun to talk about it with him. With my sons and other laymen, they don’t like to hear how the movie was a bit off or a lot off.

Our wives also went which is unusual. My wife usually has no interest, but because of all the hype on Fox she went and the other wife went because my wife went. And the four of us went to supper afterward.

I liked the movie

I’m no movie critic. We all liked it and I recommend it. When I write about war movies it’s about the accuracy.

One big point about this movie. It is based on an autobiography written by Chris Kyle, a SEAL sniper. And the movie hero is Chris Kyle. So it is supposed to be an accurate depiction of his life.

Two, or three, Chris Kyles

I did not know him, but I think there are now two Chris Kyles: the one on the movie screen and the actual one. The movie guy was sort of a foul-mouthed patriot, superman soldier, statesman, and great family man.

A reader of this article said there may a third Chris Kyle: the one in his autobiography which is somewhat different from the movie—for example, the master enemy sniper who keeps popping up in the movie was not in the book or Iraq.

The book Kyle apparently brags about getting drunk, getting in bar fights, and other similar thnigs you would associate with an immature jerk, not the mature statesman Bradley Cooper depicts in the movie. When he was in the Navy, Kyle was age 25 to 35. When he filmed the movie, Cooper was 38. Kyle “attended” high school according to Wikipedia. Cooper has a bachelors degree from Georgetown and a masters degree in acting from The New School. He has been a movie and TV star since he was 25. So not only was he much older when filming the movie than Kyle was when doing his early tours in Iraq, he was also much more polished as a resut of his education, training, and adult career as a TV and movie star.

Here are some statements from John Podhoretz’s review

By his own account, Kyle was agressive and self-assured loudmouth who enjoyed [brawls]. He was not a reliable narrator of his own life. He told some tall tales at times…Yet that aspect of his character—the self-mythmaking—is nowhere in evidence [in the movie]…The book is full of bar fights and drunken revels…Even more important, Kyle loved war.

In other words, Kyle made himself sound better than he was in his book and Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper made him look better than the book in the movie. And absent some compelling testimony by his spotter(s) that the confirmed kills were not lies by ee and Kyle to the Navy, I think we need to take the “most lethal sniper” title with a grain of salt.

I was not trained as a sniper, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night

I have read books about snipers and seen a number of TV documentaries about their training and history. There was no sniper school in the Army that I know of when I was an Army officer from 1968 to 1972. But all of my West Point classmates and I were trained in the M-14 rifle during our first month at West Point. The M-14 is the one the guys firing rifles at the movie’s funeral used. Virtually all of my classmates and I qualified “expert” on the M-14, the top rating.

As part of the final test, we walked along a course on a range, when targets popped up, we had to shoot them before they went back down on their own. Some were 300 meters away. On those, we got a little more time and were told to lie down in the prone position to shoot them. I hit those 300-meter targets and remember being surprised that I could do that after only a few days training. There is a trick to it. You have to aim about a foot or two over the head of the target because over such a great distance, the bullet is falling.

Laws of Physics-wise everything not held up falls at a rate of 16 t squared where t is the number of seconds the object has not been held up. So the bullet starts falling as soon as it leaves the barrel, and the longer the distance the longer the flight time and the longer the flight time, the farther the bullet falls. There is also windage if wind is blowing from side to side in which case you must aim to the right or left of the target. Being a sniper is more complex than that, but we were sort of trained partially about it.

Technical knowledge, not talent

To me, that sort of marksmanship is mainly technical. Right rifle and bullet, zeroing the scope before you use it although if the rifle is “cold” it has to be zeroed again when you start using it in combat, and squeezing the trigger so as not to move the gun. Anyway the fact that we all performed at the expert level at West Point suggests it’s technical, not talent.

The movie sort of gives the impression that Chris Kyle was naturally talented at shooting far away people or animals. I can see where it might take a special person to kill people, or to crawl slowly through insect-infested weeds slowly for hours, or wait in a sniper hide for hours waiting for a target to appear. But I am skeptical about natural talent being a crucial factor in the aiming and squeezing the trigger part of sniping. Holding your body motionless and your trigger finger almost motionless is, by definition, not an athletic activity.

Outside of my area of expertise ultimately. And I know teenage boys and others love to believe in supermen, and some members of some professions are not eager to disabuse laymen of the false notion that they are supermen.

Two-man teams?

I thought snipers worked in two-man teams and the spotter assistant was a crucial part of the team. In the movie, Kyle seemed to have a bored marine guard sitting nearby, but smoking, not helping.

In the middle of his four deployments in the movie, Kyle seemed to no longer be a sniper. Rather he appeared to be an ordinary infantry squad leader clearing houses. I oppose the whole idea of clearing houses. Too dangerous and costly for the benefit achieved. See my review of the book We Were One. Then in his final deployment he seemed to have returned to being a sniper, but integrated into a rifle squad, not as just a two-man sniper team. I suspect this is the compositing that they generally do in books and movies about real life events—combining multiple actual events into one action-packed event that did not happen and taking great lines spoken by multiple people in real life and making them come out of the mouth of the hero or another character in the movie.

Killing women and children

They made much of the agonizing over whether to shoot women and children. Outside my area of expertise. I imagine they accurately depicted how some feel but not all. I did a tour in Vietnam. Civilians criticized us for killing women and children over there. I killed no one and shot at no one. But I saw children there misbehave in ways that indicated they were our enemy. I understand that women and children in Vietnam killed American soldiers and helped men kill American soldiers. They also let American soldiers walk into ambushes, minefields, or booby traps that they knew about.

My impression is that a lot of the infantry and armor guys who did most of the killing over there simply regarded enemy women and children as the same as the men enemy and were no longer agonizing about killing them after a while—after a couple of their buddies had been killed by ambushes that the smiling, waving civilian women and children knew they were walking into. You would understand it if you were there, but not as a layman, American suburbanite who never saw a woman or a child aid and abet killing one of their friends. So I think Director Clint Eastwood may have pandered to the U.S. audiences there by depicting moralizing by troops that was more likely taken care of early in the tour in the combat zone by seeing and hearing about women and children helping to kill Americans. Eastwood is a Korean War era vet.


The military stuff generally seemed pretty accurate to me. The plywood-walled, windowless rooms in the combat zone especially took me back to Vietnam. The most realistic war movie I ever saw was Generation Kill, a TV mini series. It is atually about the same war Kyle was in, albeit about the initial invasion of Iraq, not the occupation which is what Kyle was in. It is probably so realistic because it is essentially the diary of a journalist who was embedded with one of the American units for the invasion.

The grenades in American Sniper made Hollywood-size explosions instead of real ones—I see that in every depiction of war made by Hollywood. That causes ignorant young soldiers to throw themselves on greades to “save” their buddies. Throwing yourself on a grenade is almost the only way to get killed by one.

Here is an excerpt from my web alicle about Hollywood weapons sounds versus real ones: Take the case of former U.S. Senator and VA head Max Cleland. He is a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran.

In October, 2009, I was surprised to learn that former VA head and U.S. Senator Max Cleland had more or less the same job that I did. He was a communications officer in an infantry battalion in the 1st Air Cav in Vietnam—same job I had in the 82nd Airborne and almost the same job I had in a mixed-heavy artillery battalion in Vietnam. He got a silver star in the Battle of Khe Sanh but received his famous injury—losing his right arm and both legs—at the hands of a stupid U.S. enlisted man who got the bright idea to loosen the pins on his grenades. (So he could throw them quicker?) One fell on the ground when they were getting out of a helicopter at a cold LZ (no enemy fighting going on) where he was to set up a radio relay station four days after the Khe Sanh Battle. The pin came out and the handle popped off starting the 4-second fuse burning. Cleland assumed it still had its pin in and bent over to pick it up. When his right hand was five inches from the grenade, it blew up.

But that is not what you would think from watching grenades blow up in Hollywood movies. You would think he would be vaporized. He was not even killed, deafened, or blinded. I am not aware of whether any of the other U.S. military personnel in the helicopter or near Cleland were injured.

Constantly taking roll

One of my consistent complaints about war movies is they do not show the enormous care taken constantly in real war to keep everyone together and to make sure no one is left behind—especially in low-visibility conditions. For example, at one point in a dust storm, the Americans are all using a pole to slide down from a roof like on a fireman’s pole.

In those conditions, each man would have his hand on the shoulder of the guy in front of him or holding onto his web gear straps or holding hands. Roll or a count would constantly be taken. As each man got to the bottom of the pole, he would wait for the next guy and again form up touching each other. When they got everybody, the leader would take the front position and lead them to the truck, in this case. They Hollywooded it up and did leave a guy behind temporarily for BS drama.

This is especially true for night, fog, or sandstorm operations. Hollywood, apparently, cannot stand to show American military personnel in night combat operations making sure they’ve got everyone before they change positions. I would not be surprised if this omission results in failing to train some young boys and results in their dying unnecessarily in combat. Doesn’t seem to me it would kill Hollywood to show combat roll-taking occasionally. But they show it never!

Ubiquitous enemy master sniper

My West Point classmate and I both thought the most unrealistic part of the movie was the enemy master sniper. We did not care for his pirate, black street gang head scarf and could not figure out how Kyle can be deployed in city A, go home to the states, come back and be deployed to City B, go home, etc. and in every city each time—all different cities—the enemy master sniper and Kyle always end up within a few blocks of each other in big cities looking at each other. As I said above, a reader who read the book version of Kyle’s life said no such enemy sniper was in the book.

There is some historical precedent for duels to the death between opposing master snipers. Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock killed a NVA sniper after they stalked each other in the same jungle area. And a top German and Russian sniper stalked each other in Stalingrad in World War II. The Russian won. But note these actual stalkings took place in just one location during one period of a month or so. I suspect the screenwriters researched and became aware of those other episodes and added them to Kyle’s real world record to hype it dramatically. Another example of compositing.

The enemy are the most expert

Also, let me point out the obvious but never realized. Americans go home—in Vietnam and in Iraq and Afghanistan. The enemy already is home. While Kyle and his fellow American were back home going to McDonalds, the enemy was fighting back in Fallujah or wherever. Stands to reason that the enemy will be more experienced and know the terrain, buildings, streets, and people infinitely better than the here-again-gone-again Americans. Yet the movie depicts Kyle as knowing better than the enemy how to fight in the cities in question.

Lack of support

My classmate and I were both struck as I have been before by movies about Iraq and Afghanistan by the lack of support available to troops in combat. In Vietnam, I think the enemy had a rule along the lines of after you hit the Americans, you’ve got about ten minutes of firing before you have to haul ass out of there.

Why? Because the American had radios. They would, upon being attacked, instantly start calling for artillery and/or air support (armed helicopters and/or jets or other fixed-wing aircraft). Within about ten minutes, napalm and bombs and artillery and mortar shells and rockets and aircraft bullets would be hitting the enemy.

Why does that not happen in Iraq and Afghanistan? We had 553,000 American troops including lots of artillery and air support in South Vietnam. Afghanistan is for times as large as South Vietnam. For similar support, you would need about 2,000,000 troops in country. Iraq being about half the size of Afghanistan, you would need about 1,000,000 troops to have the same number of American troops per square mile as we had is South Vietnam. The max we ever had in Iraq—the scene of American Sniper—was 112,000!

If you brought a platoon of Vietnam vets to Iraq to fight, the pre-patrol meeting would go something like this.

Looking at the map of the patrol area. “Where’s our artillery support?”

“You don’t have any.”

“What!? Don’t have any!? Are you nuts? There could be a battalion or a brigade of enemy in there! What air support we got?”

“Nearest is about 50 miles away, and they’re spread thin. They may not be able to come immediately.”

“What the fuck is going on here? Did higher decide to get this whole platoon killed for some reason? Tell you what, colonel, this patrol will consist of you and any volunteers you can find. Nobody that I know is going on this patrol.”

“That’s mutiny!”

“Wouldn’t be the first time. Your patrol is suicide. You take it out. We’re not going.”

Vietnam era soldiers probably would refuse to go on such a platoon, and think the battalion commander had lost his mind.

Real Chris Kyle versus Bradley Cooper ‘Chris Kyle’

As far as the real Chris Kyle versus the Bradley Cooper version, here are some facts which no one can deny about the real one:

• He is purportedly the most lethal sniper in U.S. history with 160 confirmed kills out of a possible 255 kills, as I understand it, the Navy does not publicize such figures. Kyle chose to publicize the numbers.

• Snipers generally operate in two-man teams. Sniper results are reported daily to their superiors by the sniper and his spotter. The integrity of the body count depends on the integrity of the pair. So the answer to the question, “Who says Kyle killed 160 out of 255 possible?” is Chris Kyle and his spotter. The two movie reviews in the 2/2/15 Weekly Standard magazine both say Kyle is known to have lied about Jesse Ventura and about being a sniper in the Superdome in New Orleans. That raises the suspicion he lied about his kills to the Navy. I know nothing about his spotter. But saying “the Navy” confirmed those kills is misleading.

• He won seven bravery medals—2 silver stars and five bronze stars with Vs.

• He was wounded twice.

• He was honorably discharged in 2009, ten years after he entered, and published his autobiography in 2012. It is startling to see a U.S. military person get out after ten years because they only have another ten until they get half pay for the rest of their life and really cheap health care for them and their dependents for the rest of their lives. Why would someone get out only ten years away from that extremely generous retirement? Typically because they believe they will do even better financially out of the military.

• He volunteered for the Navy and re-enlisted multiple times.

• He and a friend were fatally shot in the U.S. on 2/2/13. The man who did it is going to prison for life.

•  Kyle and others started a SWAT training company called Craft. It has since gone bankrupt and the various owners and investors are in litigation with Kyle’s widow.

• Wikipedia says, In interviews with the Opie and Anthony Show and Bill O'Reilly in January 2012, Kyle claimed to have punched former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura at a bar in Coronado, California, in 2006 during a wake for Mike Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient killed in Iraq. The story parallels an incident in his book which does not mention Ventura by name, and claims a character named "Scruff Face" said that the SEALs "deserved to lose a few guys."[29] Ventura, who was in the bar that night, filed a lawsuit against Kyle for defamation in January 2012.[30][31] After Kyle was killed the following year Ventura continued his lawsuit against his widow and their minor children.[32] A jury awarded Ventura $1.8 million in July 2014.[33][34] Kyle's widow is appealing the judgment on behalf of Kyle's surviving heirs. [35]

Fox News clips

I saw Chris Kyle interiewed a number of times on Fox News. He came across to me as an immature jerk who thought he was the coolest guy in the world because he killed 160 to 255 enemies in Iraq. He smirked his way through interviews in which he claimed he punched Jesse Ventura and knocked him down for bad-mouthing SEALs. Ventura is a former SEAL, movie star, professional wrestling star and goverenor of Minnesota. But Fox News has one clip where Kyle comes across like the portrayal by Bradley Cooper in this movie.

Before Kyle was murdered, Fox would show various of the Kyle clips when talking about the lawsuit or Kyle in general—including the immature, smirking ones. But since the movie came out, Fox only shows the one clip that makes Kyle look good. Fox makes much of lefties in Hollywood attacking the movie. But Fox News appears to be doing the same in the other direction by now only using the clip that makes him look like Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of him.

Discussing the morality of a war in the combat zone

In the movie, the guys in the combat zone often discuss Kyle’s philosophical, ethical analysis of the war—there to protect his marines which justifies killing the enemy “savages” even women and children. I agree that was correct analysis, but not that soliders in a combat zone stand around talking about such things. In my experience and observation, they do not. It’s simply a kill-or-be-killed situation. Not many nuances.

I did a tour in the combat zone called Vietnam. I recall no such discussion except for one newly arrived OCS lieutenant who had been a war protester all through college. We just laughed at him. We were in an office full of clerks typing on manual typewriters and he felt compelled to say that he was against “this war.” “What’s your specific problem? That we have not supplied these clerks with electric typewriters? That the air-conditioning is turned up too high?” (a reader took that incident to mean I spent my whole tour in Vietnam in that room. Nope. I was in commo. I often had three guys in various Army bases all over the III Corps area and spent a lot of time flying around in choppers to visit them. I volunteered to be the commo officer of D Co. 75th Rangers when I was in the states. I was sent to Vietnam to fill that slot, but one of my West Point classmates who arrived the day before me and had the same resume as me got that job instead of me. How combatty your combat tour is was determined partly by what you volunteered for and the fortunes of war like who was needed where when you arrived and where the enemy decided to attack where you were at the time you were there.)

Morality-of-killing moment

We in Vietnam, and from what I understand, all wars, all had our one morality moment early in our tours. It comes the first time you’re shot at. It’s the fifth step of a six-step thought process that all veterans who were shot at have experienced.

1. What the hell was that!? (usually a puff of dirt next to you or twinkling lights in a distant tree line [they are muzzle flashes of the guns that are shooting at you] or a loud thud next to you—the shooter is typically hundreds of yards away so the gun-shot sound is merely what General MacArthur called “the mournful mutter of the battlefield”)

2. Holy shit! Somebody just tried to kill me!

3. Why would he do that? What did I ever do to him?

4. Oh. I’m in a war. I’m an American soldier. He’s an enemy soldier. He supposed to shoot me just because I’m American.

5. Well, I’d better kill that son of a bitch before he kills me.

6. Damn, I always knew I was going to die someday, but it was always way out in the distant future and a detail-less abstraction. It may be I’m gonna die right now by a bullet to the head or vital organ. Oh, well, nothing I can do about it but do my job. And what the hell exactly was my job in this situation? Oh, yeah, the training I got.

So, you “fall back on your training,” to use the phrase almost all vets use, and get on with your day.

After that, men in combat zones do not sit around contemplating their moral-justification navels like college students back in the states. Those moral-justification-for-sniping discussions in Iraq in the movie are pure Hollywood—Clint Eastwood pleading to Hollywood and the moviegoers not to hate him and his movie because it shows foreigners getting killed by a skilled American. The review of the movie in the 2/2/15 Weekly Standard magazine noticed the same thing and said it this way:

Early on, there’s a scene in which military briefers explain that the enemy the Marines and SEALS are up against are AQI or Al Qaeda in Iraq. …[who are] abusing and killing whoever they saw fit…the briefing scene is remarkable in that it was deemed necessary to explain to American audiences who the enemy is.

160 out of 255, but who’s counting?

The statement that Chris Kyle killed 160 out of a possible 255 shots and is the most lethal sniper in U.S. history is Chris Kyle’s meal ticket and claim to fame. The Navy would not have publicized that, in part on the grounds that it could get Chris Kyle assassinated. Chris Kyle himself publicized it by co-authoring his book and doing a book tour.

In the movie, his character is constantly saying the number doesn’t matter and he doesn’t care what the number is and that’s what someone else says and he doesn’t remember the number and he never kept count and all that. And fans of his are falling for that total bullshit. “Oh, he doesn’t even know how many. We wouldn’t even know unless the Navy kept count. He’s a modest hero who only cares about his family and saving marines.”

In 2008, I criticized Senator John McCain for this same bullshit: trading on his P.O.W. history as hard as he can while simultaneously maintaining he has no interest in it and doesn’t want to talk about it.

We would never have heard of John McCain or Chris Kyle if John McCain and Chris Kyle had not done everything in their power to get those claims to heroic fame as widely known as possible by way of autobiographies and other maximum-effort publicity activities. One of the main sources of income for Kyle’s widow and him before he died was his website where he sells Chris Kyle “gear:”

Two photographers in every squad

One other comment: The Navy SEALs say Kyle is the “most lethal” sniper in U.S. history. President Harry Truman once said that every marine squad had two photographers. He had been in the Army.

When I was a company commander at the U.S. Army Signal School, the relatively few marines going to the school ate in my mess hall. At one point, I put a sign on the milk dispenser “only one glass per person” because the late-comers complained we kept running out and I could not get more. The sign did not work, so I had to station a guard there. The marines said the one glass limit only applied to the Army; that they were entitled to two. I asked the chief mess officer at the base about that. When he stopped laughing, he said it was bullshit. So I added “This includes marines” to the sign and policy.

They went nuts running to their commandant in DC who ran to the chairman of the joint chiefs and I was ordered to take down the sign by the Pentagon. They did not order me to let the marines get two glasses.

At some point in that fracas, I asked my troops if they had any idea why the marines were at the U.S. Army Signal School anyway. “They’re all in the photography school, sir. It’s the only photography school in the U.S. military, sir. And there are more marines in the U.S. Army Photography School than there are Air Force, Navy, or Army students.”


So why am I talking about the marines when Kyle was a Navy SEAL? Because if the marine rifle squads each have two photographers, each SEAL squad has a two photographers, a sound man, a videographer, a lighting technician, a director, a literary agent, a talent agent, and a campaign manager for those SEALs planning to go into politics after they get out. They are beyond shameless in their hyping of the SEALs as supermen. The third biggest party in Congress is the former SEALs.

The word “lethal” apparently means highest body count. Who was the top guy before Kyle? As far as I know, the late Carlos Hathcock. Was he a SEAL? No. A marine. Are the SEALs rivals of the marines and other services Oh, you betcha. So the SEALs are saying our guy killed the most. Does that mean it’s not true? No. But anyone interested in all this needs to know there is no more self-promoting group of people on earth than the U.S. Navy SEALs. Check this out:

Hathcock operated in the jungle of Vietnam. He would get assignments, like go kill NVA Colonel Nguyen Lan Thanh, commander of the 137th NVA infantry brigade. He would then have to track him down in the jungle like a hunter looking for a particular deer. This, as you can imagine, was very time-consuming and involved much more skill than lying on a mattress up high in a building in a city watching the street below. All things being equal, the guy in the city is going to get far more kills than the guy in the jungle.

As far as who you would not want stalking you, I suspect Hathcock would be more feared than Kyle.

The real Chris Kyle appears to have been one of the most effective snipers in U.S. history. He also was brave and dedicated and patriotic and a good sailor. But the notion peddled in the movie that he was modest and not draining every drop of fame and money out of his body count is bullshit.

Father of the Year?

He is also being depicted as father of the year and husband of the year. He deployed four times in an all-volunteer military. He must have re-enlisted multiple times. Either you are with your family or you’re not. Either you are risking your wife’s becoming a widow and your kids going halfway to orphan status or not.

Kyle chose to be away from his family and to risk putting them in widow-orphan status. The claim that he owed it to the marines in Iraq is not valid. He was not the only good man in the SEALs or the Navy or the U.S. military. Plus the marines over there were also all-volunteer and had enlistments coming to an end. They should all have done their part then gone home and let someone else do theirs.

I was surprised to read in the Weekly Standard review the following:

Some of the angry reaction to the film hinges on Kyle’s real-life reputation. While the movie documents his PTSD and other struggles, it leaves out his flights of braggadicio and dishonesty…a man who once described killing as ‘fun’ [a quote from his book taken somewhat out of context]

That is a fairly precise description of my complaints in this review. The Weekly Standard reviewer may have read this article before writing his. I wouldn’t know. I was surprised because I often seem to have a near monopoly on saying things that many others also thought, but refused to say publicly.

Don’t volunteer

I have said that I do not think people should volunteer for the military or once in, volunteer for particular missions, UNLESS they have a particular skill that the mission requires, like speaking the local language.

Should have been an instructor at SEAL sniper school

Would Kyle’s extraordinary sniper skills mean he needed to deploy multiple times? No. Indeed, they meant he should be an instructor at the SEAL sniper school in the states, where he could have gone home to his wife and kids every night and been safe.

One of the reasons the U.S. beat the German and Japanese air forces in World War II was we sent our best pilots back to the states to teach new pilots. The Germans and Japanese kept them in combat. The best German pilot in terms of kills had 352! Look at this list of World War II aces from all countries and you can see the enemy had a zillion of them. The U.S. best was Richard Bong with only 40.

At some point, Chris Kyle should have stopped chasing more kills and started teaching his fellow SEALs how to do it—not just casually in tiny informal groups in Iraq, but teaching the entire SEAL sniper school student body back in the states. His SEAL superiors should have done that, unless they were themselves chasing kills for their childish competition with the marines and other services. That way, Kyle would have been responsible for far more kills, the optimum number of kills counting his direct kills and the indirect incremental kills scored by his former studets because of his instruction.

Longest distance kill

By the way, another valid way to define “most lethal” is longest-distance kill. The top three guys in that competition were Craig Harrison, Rob Furlong, and Arron Perry. Were they SEALs? No. Marines? No. Harrison was in the Household Cavalry Light Guards—of the British Army. Furlong and Perry were in the Army infantry—the Canadian Army infantry. Chris Kyle is eighth on that list.

Want to know who was sixth on that list? He was a South African special forces sniper but his name has been withheld by the South African military. Ditto number twelve, a Norwegian Army sniper. Withholding the name shows the class, modesty, professionalism, and common sense that the movie American Sniper attributes incorrectly to Chris Kyle and the U.S. Navy SEALs. If Kyle and the SEALs had that class, modesty, professionalism, and concern for the safety of their snipers, we might have read his book and seen that movie, but we would not know his name.

A reader sent me a link telling how the #1 guy Craig Harrison got 100,000 pounds from the British government for accidentally releasing his name.

And he was in the Household Cavalry Blues and Royals, not the Household Cavalry Light Guards. I hope I don’t owe him another 100,000 for that. Calling a Blue and Royal a Light Guard. What was I thinking? Actually, by American standards, once the name of your macho military units starts with the word “household,” I doubt it matters what comes after it.

American Sniper is in part Hollywood getting its box office, Harper Collins getting its best seller, Fox News getting its ratings, the SEALs and Kyle getting their glory, and to the extent that Kyle’s murder had anything to do with his fame, his wife’s widowhood and his childrens’ single-mom family status.

SEALs claim to be “quiet professionals” who just do their jobs and don’t seek glory or fame or riches for it. What total bullshit! They ought to be that, but they are in too many cases the most lethal hypocrites in the world. The true quiet professionals, who probably do not even call themselves that because they are so truly quiet, are the South African and the Norwegian snipers.

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  • Anyone whose claim to fame is as the most efficient, sanctioned long-distance murderer on the US books is not someone to be admired, let alone glorified in a movie. If you want to impress me with your “warrior ethos” show me documented proof of how many folks you killed hand-to-hand or knife-to-knife. Like the ancients used to do. BTW – you don’t read any accounts, recent past or ancient history, of self-classified “warriors” touting their body counts. Why is this now such a fad? Or source of glory?

    Many of my family and friends served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. They actually killed LOTS of people up-close-and-personal. Some with knives, sticks, and entrenching tools. NONE OF THEM bragged about this. NONE OF THEM even TALKED about their “endeavors” until years and years later when the tales were DRAGGED out of them.

    Christ said in the Bible, “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” How apropos that the douchebag who so famously lived by the gun died by the gun. PS to any current “highly-trained, highly-deadly modern warriors” who lament this joker’s untimely demise: you don’t put a live weapon in the hand of a trained ex-combatant who has already been diagnosed with significant mental/emotional dysfunction. Just like you don’t put car keys in the hands of a 3-time-DUI-loser who has just exited a bar after a hard night of drinking.

    I think it was People magazine who printed the most interesting evaluation of this douche’s life. When they interviewed his wife, she said something to the effect that he was the sweetest man in the world because after she hooked up with him at a bar on the night they met, he held her hair out of the way while she barfed her brains out. Boy, aren’t they a couple of winners to be praised and admired!

    Jeff on

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