AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is setting aside Monday to honor Chris Kyle, the U.S. Navy SEAL marksman depicted in the film “American Sniper.”
Kyle became a legend in military circles due to his 160 confirmed kills and developed a deadly reputation in Iraq, where he served several times. He’s considered one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. history.
“I have declared February 2 to be Chris Kyle Day in Texas,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. “We honor our military heroes.”
During his speech at a Texas veterans event Friday, the governor described Kyle as “a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield.”
A Marine veteran is alleged to have killed Kyle at a Texas gun range in 2013.
Thousands mourned him in his home state, lining a 200-mile route to his final resting place in Austin and attending a memorial service at Texas Stadium in Dallas.
His popularity did not end there.
Kyle movie draws crowds
Clint Eastwood’s film on Kyle raked in $107 million over its first weekend on wide release this month — an unprecedented haul for an R-rated drama in the middle of winter.
The movie was distributed by Warner Bros., which is owned by Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.
As the movie draws huge crowds to theaters nationwide, Texas is paying tribute to its son.
The west Texas native attended Tarleton State University in Stephenville after graduating from high school in 1992.
He left college after two years to work as a ranch hand and later joined the Navy in 1999.
Actor Bradley Cooper portrayed Kyle in the movie, a depiction the wife of the late sniper described as uncanny.
“Bradley did an amazing job and I truly don’t believe there’s anybody who could have done better,” Taya Kyle told CNN’s Jake Tapper.