Taya Kyle: Sacrifice at home and abroad for an ‘American Wife’

taya kyle
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry visits with Taya Kyle in 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain)

Chris Kyle is famous posthumously, as many warriors are. The “American Sniper,” a figure of almost mythical status, has been the subject of numerous articles and books, and a film starring Bradley Cooper. Kyle was a highly successful sniper for the American Army in the Middle East.

A SEAL, Chris Kyle served four tours in Iraq. He earned a Silver Star, three Bronze, and had 160 confirmed kills. So fearsome was his skill that local enemy leaders put out bounties on him. Discharged in 2009, he wrote his memoir, “American Sniper,” and settled into civilian life.

In 2013, Kyle was killed by a former Marine with PTSD, at a shooting range near his Texas home. He’ll never be forgotten, and his widow, Taya, will see to that. Her story is in part a reminder that spouses, significant others and parents of soldiers experience their own unique fear during time of war. Often, how they’ve handled that has been as inspiring as the warriors they pray for in harm’s way.

In her own memoir, American Wife, Taya Kyle writes about those early days as Chris was first being deployed to the war zone:

“I felt as if a part of myself was leaving, and there was nothing I could do about it. I longed to be with him, but knew that our separation would be deep, and perhaps permanent. I felt trapped by fate, a prisoner of whatever inevitability the future was bringing.”

She also said that Chris was actually looking forward to combat, to test the extreme skills he had spent years honing. The couple was definitely compatible. As a girl, Taya had two early ambitions: to be an NFL quarterback or a race car driver!

taya kyle award
Taya Kyle accepts the 2016 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Great American Patriot Award on behalf of her husband, Chris Kyle, during halftime at the Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 23, 2016.

This woman was perfectly matched for the warrior her husband was about to become.

Much has been written about Chris Kyle’s experiences in wartime—the movie covered that in a superb way—but not as much is known about his post-war years. Once Chris was discharged, he naturally began to turn his attention to what comes next. That’s when one of those poignant twists of fate pushed him toward his too-early death.

Chris had discussed with another former soldier the possibility of opening a security training facility. The idea was a golden one; Chris Kyle as your personal instructor? The two decided to open the facility in Arizona, but at the last minute, a hedge-fund billionaire in Texas approached Chris about being part of his personal security detail. 

That’s how the Kyles ended up in Texas.

As Taya remembers:

“February 2, 2013, was a Saturday like many of our Saturdays. Until it wasn’t.”

american wife by taya kyle
American Wife written by Taya Kyle.

Chris had gone with a friend to counsel a troubled vet. Taya planned to attend an impromptu birthday party in Dallas that evening; she called Chris and quickly told him about the plans. He said he’d meet them at the restaurant.

What followed was hours of not hearing from her husband. This was different, but just as stressful, as dealing with the long, silent deployments.

Finally, late in the day, their friend Mark came to tell Taya the unbelievable news. The vet had shot and killed both Chris and his friend Chad Littlefield. The unbelievable was all-to-believable now. Just like that, the American warrior was gone.

In the end, Taya drew on her faith in God. She also remembers, sweetly, that her late husband was instrumental in the deepening of her faith. For the masculine warrior also was something of a Bible student himself. Taya said that he could go beyond quoting Scripture and have in-depth thoughts about the Almighty.

The American Wife believes her Creator is keeping her American Sniper safe until they meet again.