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Father of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle Talks to Lester Holt About Son’s Legacy

‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle’s Dad on Tragedy of Losing His Son 3:14

The father of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL who inspired “American Sniper,” says it was gut-wrenching watching the trial of the man who killed his son.

"Oh, gosh, it was horrible," Wayne Kyle told NBC’s Lester Holt in an exclusive interview, his first since the trial. “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.”

Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed at a gun range in February 2013. Eddie Ray Routh, a troubled former Marine whom the two were trying to help, was convicted of murder this past February and sentenced to life without parole.

Chris Kyle left the Navy in 2009 and initially wrestled with post-traumatic stress. He told NBC News in a 2012 interview that he found purpose in helping other struggling veterans.

Wayne Kyle, though, worried about his son.

"I told him one time, I said, 'Son, I — I worry more about you as a civilian than when you were with the teams.' And he said, 'Why is that?' And I said, 'Because you were fully trained, highly skilled in what you did.' But I said, 'There’s no training to be a civilian.'"

Wayne Kyle says the past two years have been the toughest of his life, but he says the jury got it right. He says he was disappointed that the case became known as the “American Sniper” trial because that characterization played down Littlefield’s death.

He also says it was a disgrace that the movie portrayed Chris Kyle’s brother, Jeff, as "weak, almost cowardly." But Wayne Kyle and his wife, Deby, say they are moved by the tributes of strangers for Chris.

Today the parents honor their son through a foundation that supports veterans’ causes. On the heels of the film’s success, a Texas congressman introduced a bill to posthumously award Kyle the Medal of Honor. Wayne Kyle rejects the idea.

"If you knew Chris, you would know that he would never want that," he said. "He never saw himself as a hero."

You can find more information on the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit & Auction here.

IN-DEPTH

— Erin McClam