The headstone for Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was placed at the Texas State Cemetery during a private ceremony Friday.
The Odessa native served four tours in the Iraq War and gained national fame after his book was made into the movie “American Sniper.”
“I've seen his movie and stuff and after watching, he's an American hero,” said David Morrow who visited Kyle’s grave Friday.
The cemetery closed Friday morning for the ceremony. There were only about 35 family members and close friends present.
The newly placed headstone is already drawing people from all over the country who want to come and honor Kyle for his service.
“I bought the book, I read the book and his life story, his humble beginnings, it spoke to me,” said Miguel Hernandez, who also visited Kyle’s grave Friday.
Kyle wrote that he had killed 160 people during his time in Iraq, more than any other U.S. military sniper. Although the number could not be officially confirmed, it earned him the nickname “The Legend."
“I've watched a lot of stuff about different snipers and he's got the record,” said Morrow.
“It was hard on him personally, but he did all this for his country and I think that's a very honorable thing,” said Hernandez.
Kyle was killed at a North Texas gun range in February 2013 after being shot by a fellow veteran who had PTSD. After his death, Kyle was buried at the Texas State Cemetery, an honor only certain veterans are awarded. It took three years before his headstone was finally put in place.
“He was a little bit different because of his record and that kind of thing and so we are very honored that Chris Kyle was buried here. We're very honored that that monument is here,” said Texas State Cemetery Superintendent Harry Bradley.
“He served his country proud. He gave the ultimate sacrifice and that's one way us as Texans can repay him,” Hernandez said.
The headstone was handcrafted and features the hands of Kyle’s wife Taya and their two children.
“We know that it's six feet tall, that it's made out of Swedish black pearl I think is the name of the type of granite,” said Bradley.
Although too small to hold all Texas veterans, Bradley hopes Kyle’s gravestone is a reminder to every one of the sacrifices those who serve our country make.
“It’s not just a monument to Chris Kyle, it is a monument to all veterans, all men and women who have served in the armed forces,” Bradley said.
Bradley said the site is already one of the most visited plots at the cemetery. He expects even more visitors now that the monument is complete.
“I just wanted to come and see his grave because to me it means something, what he did for our country and for what all veterans do,” Morrow said.
The headstone also has Taya's name on it. Cemetery staff said it is her right to be buried next to her husband if she chooses to do so.