Thursday, March 5, 2015

#Hero no. 3: Chris Kyle, #AmericanSniper

Hero Tenet #3 part 1: Establish an Ethos

"On the morning of August 2, 2006, three Navy SEALs walked onto the roof of a four-story apartment building in Ramadi, in central Iraq. One of them, a petty officer and a sniper named Chris Kyle, got into position with his rifle. Peering through his gun’s scope, Kyle scanned the streets below; as other American soldiers searched and cordoned off homes, he waited for insurgents to appear in his sight line." [Finish Nicholas Schmidles' oped/biography of Chris Kyle at:]

"In the end, my story, in Iraq and afterward, is about more than just killing people or even fighting for my country. It's about being a man. And it's about love as well as hate." - Chris Kyle

"There are three types of people: 

                          Sheep, wolves and sheepdogs."

If you've seen the movie American Sniper you may recognize the scene up above. The screen writer, Jason Hall, created this seen for the movie but it does not appear in the book. It sums up Kyle's personal ethos very well, he was a sheepdog. Hall actually borrowed the line from a another very popular book on Ethos by LTC(R) David Grossman, On Combat:

"If you have no capacity for violence and you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath—a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path."

Chris Kyle identified with being a sheepdog and it informed every action in his life. You can see how Chris Kyle's personnel ethos aligned well with what would become his professional ethos:

United States Navy SEAL Ethos

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.

Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.

I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.

Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

After leaving Naval service Chris Kyle was involved in a number of entrepreneurial ventures, authored two books and counseled vets through firearms sportsmanship. If you have been watching the news lately you probably know that this finally cost him and Chad Littlefield their lives.

Chris lived by a code and died by a code.

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