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After investigation, Navy lowers ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle’s medal count

🕐 2 min read

After an investigation into famed SEAL Chris Kyle’s personnel record, the Navy has corrected his medal count, indicating that he earned one Silver Star instead of his previously claimed two, a Navy spokeswoman said Saturday.

Kyle, who was murdered along with a friend in 2013, penned the book “American Sniper” which was subsequently turned into a movie by director Clint Eastwood. In his book, Kyle wrote that he had earned two Silver Stars, a prestigious valor award two rungs below the Medal of Honor. When Kyle left the Navy in 2009, his separation form — known as DD214 — also said that he had earned the two Silver Stars.

On June 14 the Navy updated his DD214 with the correct medal count. USA Today was the first to report on Kyle’s altered record Friday.

“After thoroughly reviewing all available records, the Navy determined an error was made in the issuance of Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle’s form DD214.” Lt. Jackie Pau, a Navy Spokeswoman, said in an email. “Specifically, the DD214 did not accurately reflect the decorations and awards to which Kyle was officially entitled.”

Pau added that the Navy issued the new version of the form after notifying Kyle’s family.

The site “The Intercept” first reported Kyle’s inflated record in May, citing unnamed service members that had tried to wave Kyle off of publishing a book that incorrectly portrayed his medal count.

Kyle’s veracity has come under scrutiny before. In his book, Kyle claimed to have shot at rioters from atop the New Orleans’ Superdome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and later said on late night television that he had punched former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura in the face. Ventura took Kyle’s estate to court in a defamation lawsuit and won. A jury awarded the “Predator” co-star $1.8 million in 2014.

What isn’t in doubt, however, is Kyle’s performance on the battlefield. His record notes that besides his one Silver Star, he also earned four Bronze Stars with “V” for valor distinguishing devices and a Navy Achievement Medal with a “V” during his time fighting in Iraq.

It is unclear why Kyle would try to exaggerate an already impressive record, however an incorrectly issued DD214 is commonplace in the U.S. military. The form, a single black and white page that lists a service member’s history within their respective branch, is usually issued by an administrative office on base.

Considered the proof of one’s time in uniform, it is often the last piece of paperwork a service member receives before reentering civilians. Clerks responsible for issuing the DD214 will remind those picking their’s up to check for any errors (which usually range between misspellings to incorrect reenlistment codes) before leaving.

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