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While "American Sniper" was breaking box office records in February, Wayne Kyle was enduring the trial of the man accused of murdering his son.
Former U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, the subject of the blockbuster film starring Bradley Cooper, was shot and killed in 2013 by military veteran Eddie Ray Routh, who has been sentenced to life in prison. Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield had taken Routh to a shooting range near their home in Texas in an attempt to support him as he struggled to return to civilian life after serving as a U.S. Marine. Routh murdered both men at the range.
"Oh gosh, it was horrible,'' Wayne Kyle told Lester Holt on TODAY about the trial. "I mean gut-wrenching. And it's just one of those deals that you just want to jump over the railing and, you know, kill him with your bare hands.''
Wayne Kyle also took issue with the film's portrayal of his other son, Jeff, who also served in Iraq.
"It was an absolute disgrace,'' he said. "They portrayed Jeff as a weak, almost cowardly marine, just wanting to get out of country in any way possible, and that couldn't be further from the truth from the way Jeff was, is."
Even though Chris Kyle faced daily danger as a U.S. Navy Seal sniper serving four tours in Iraq, his father was more worried about his safety once he returned home to civilian life.
"They basically knew who the enemy was over there,'' Wayne said. "How do you know who the enemy is here? Could be the person that you take to the shooting range to try to help. You know, somebody that turned on him. Somebody that, you know, is evil that had something else in mind and took his life."
The film also caused a debate about whether Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history with 160 confirmed kills, was a hero. Kyle himself told Holt in 2012 that he just wanted to be seen as an advocate for veterans and didn't worry about how he was viewed. His father said he ignored the controversy.
"I know it's not true,'' Wayne said. "To me, those people, they have no self worth. They can't accomplish anything on their own, and so their only claim to fame is to try to destroy somebody who has the values of people like what Chris possessed."
For more information on the Kyle family’s efforts to help veterans, visit www.ChrisKyleMemorialBenefit.com.