Chris Kyle, ‘American Sniper’ Subject, May Have Embellished Military Record: Report

Chris Kyle
Kyle on Stars Earn Stripes Season 1 Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Chris Kyle, the subject of 2014’s American Sniper, may have lied about his decorated military career, according to The Intercept.

Kyle, the former Navy SEAL and Iraq War veteran — who penned the New York Times–bestselling memoir American Sniper — has been largely celebrated as a war hero for his brave service. His stories of fighting overseas inspired the Clint Eastwood–directed blockbuster, which was nominated for Best Picture at the 2015 Academy Awards. Subsequently, Bradley Cooper, who played Kyle in the film, was also nominated for Best Actor the same year.

In his tome, Kyle wrote that he received two Silver Stars, a prestigious decoration two levels below the Medal of Honor, and five Bronze Stars with a “V” device, signifying they were earned for valor. Contrary to his account, The Intercept suggests that Kyle embellished his achievements, citing one Navy officer who chose to remain anonymous. The unidentified officer claimed that Kyle received only one Silver Star and three Bronze Stars with “V.”

Bradley Cooper
Cooper in ‘American Sniper’ Warner Bros.

However, after Kyle was shot and killed at 38 in 2013 at a Texas gun range, the Navy released Kyle’s discharge paperwork, aka a DD Form 214, that stated he earned two Silver Stars and at least five Bronze Stars with a “V,” which he originally took credit for. The Navy is looking into the discrepancy between Kyle’s medal count (which matches their official log) and The Intercept’s report.

“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,” Navy spokesperson Lt. Jackie Pau said in a statement.

“The form DD214 is generated locally at the command where the service member is separated,” Pau added. “Although the information on the DD214 should match the official records, the process involves people and inevitably some errors may occur.”

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