The book and movie of the life of Navy Seal Chris Kyle a.k.a. the American Sniper took off as the world shared in his victories in 2014, but the Navy is now investigating why documents show a discrepancy between the number of medals that were awarded to him and what he wrote in his best-seller, according to CNN and The Intercept.
The Intercept obtained documents through a Freedom of Information request, which shows that America’s deadliest sniper only earned one Silver star—the military’s third highest military decoration for valor—and three Bronze stars with valor—awarded to U.S. military for heroic or merit worthy service and achievements in a combat zone—unlike the two Silver stars and five Bronze stars Kyle claimed to have received in his book, which was later a movie starring Bradley Cooper.
A spokesperson for the Navy, Lt. Jackie Pau told CNN that, “Kyle’s official military personnel file states he received the lower counts for medals, while his discharge documents, known as a DD-214, indicated the higher numbers for both the Silver Stars and Bronze Stars, and were cited by Kyle in his book.”
She then stated, “The Navy considers the individual service member’s official military personnel file and our central official awards records to be the authoritative sources for verifying entitlement to decorations and awards. The form DD214 is generated locally at the command where the service member is separated. Although the information on the DD214 should match the official records, the process involves people and inevitably some errors may occur.”
According to reports, “the personnel clerk handling a sailor’s separation is required to ensure that the awards match the service member’s official personnel file. It is unclear whether that was done in the case of Kyle’s DD214.”
This wasn’t the first time the book was called into question. In 2014 former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was awarded $1.8 million after filing a defamation lawsuit over a passage in the book that claimed he had been punched in the face by Kyle for making derogatory comments about the naval special operations unit, which Ventura denied. Ventura said the comments ruined his reputation within the SEAL community. The verdict for that trial is currently being appealed.
Kyle was discharged in 2009 and was murdered in 2013 by a fellow Marine veteran, Eddie Ray Routh, at a Texas shooting range. A public memorial service was held for Kyle at the Cowboys Stadium near Dallas, where nearly 7,000 people showed up.