Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chris Kyle's Best Friend Talks About American Sniper

“American Sniper” starring Bradley Cooper opened in theaters Christmas Day and tells the true story of Texas-born Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. Directed by renowned filmmaker Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, it's already garnering critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. If you aren't familiar with Kyle's story, here's his pretty awe-inspiring life in a nutshell: Kyle served as a Navy SEAL in 4 tours in the latest Iraq war. For his bravery and military skills, he was awarded some of the highest medals in the US military multiple times including the Bronze and Silver Star. Kyle is considered the deadliest sniper in this country’s history, with 160 confirmed kills out of 255 claimed kills. After 4 tours abroad, Kyle needed to make a decision on family life or the military. He had a small child that he did not know very well as he was overseas constantly. This also put pressure on his marriage, so he decided to leave the SEALS and was honourably discharged in 2009. After some time struggling with civilian life, he started a security company called CRAFT and wrote the New York Times bestselling book, American Sniper. Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were fatally shot at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. Former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who came with them to the range, was arrested for the murders.

Rich Emberlin at the world premier of American Sniper in New York City on December 15.
Pictured with Clint Eastwood, Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper

It takes a special sort of person to live a military life and although I was never fortunate enough to meet Kyle myself, I feel like I know a lot about him because I am very good friends with his best friend, Rich Emberlin, who lives here in Dallas. That whole 6 degrees of separation thing... The thing about veterans and service men and women is that what they do to protect and serve, they don't do for personal fame or glory. They do it out of a need - a calling if you will - and it's rare that you hear them toot their own horn or pound their own chest. Their accomplishments are usually performed silently and with little bravado. Which is why it makes me so happy to see this film come to life as a way to honor him and all that Kyle did to protect this Country. I sat down with Emberlin over dinner last Saturday night to ask him about the film and ask him what he wanted us to remember about his best friend, Chris Kyle. Emberlin remembers being shocked when the first press photos came out of Bradley Cooper on the set for American Sniper. "He looked so much like Chris, it was spooky," recalls Emberlin. "It really shook me up." He feels the film did his friend's story justice and that both Cooper and Miller did an excellent job portraying Chris and Taya Kyle and honoring their story. Right down to Kyle's mannerisms. "That 'sniff' Cooper does in the film when he is looking through the sight of the gun," Emberlin shook his head. "Kyle had sinus problems and he did that sniffing thing a lot. It was just little gestures and mannerisms like that - Cooper really nailed." At the premier Emberlin said he made it a point to shake Cooper's hand and thank him for doing his friend justice. This film is a great reminder that our Country is made up of average Americans who do extraordinary things for us. Have you seen the film? Let me know what you thought of it?