The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 12, 2013

1,000s honor ex-Navy SEAL Kyle at Cowboys Stadium

(Continued)

His fellow service members told mourners that Kyle was more than an excellent sniper — he was a devoted family man known for his sense of humor, compassion, selflessness and generosity. Kyle completed four tours of duty in Iraq and wrote the best-selling book "American Sniper."

Childhood friends recalled his mischievous side, and one said he and Kyle played with BB guns as kids — but Kyle "wasn't a good shot back then."

Bo French, an executive at Craft International, the security training company Kyle started after he left the Navy, said Kyle had a passion for helping others. Kyle also founded a nonprofit, FITCO Cares, that provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans.

Pictures of Kyle with his family and SEALs were shown on a large screen in the stadium. The back page of the memorial service program included copies of handwritten notes from Kyle's young kids: "I will miss your heart. I will love you even if you died" from his daughter, and "I miss you a lot. One of the best things that has happened to me is you" from his son.

Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh, 25, has been charged in the Feb. 2 killings of Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a North Texas gun range. Routh is jailed in Erath County on $3 million bond.

Taya Kyle also paid tribute to Littlefield during the service Monday, saying he was the "effortless, no expectations" friend that her husband needed.

Many said before Monday's service that they didn't know the 38-year-old Kyle. Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Phillips said he came from his Fort Worth home to honor "a brother in arms."

Steven O'Bryan and his wife, Carol, drove more than two hours from their home in Marshall in East Texas because "he's just an American hero," Carol O'Bryan said.

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