Thousands mourn slain ex-Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle

Posted at 9:09 PM, Feb 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-11 21:10:27-05

(CNN) - Friends and family of a slain ex-Navy SEAL sniper gathered Monday at a football stadium in north Texas to say their final goodbyes.

Chris Kyle, America's self-proclaimed most deadly military sniper, was shot and killed February 2 at a gun range, alongside his friend, Chad Littlefield. Another veteran, Eddie Ray Routh, 25, faces murder charges in their deaths.

"I stand before you a broken woman," Taya Kyle, Chris Kyle's widow, told the crowd at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. "But I am now, and always will be, the wife of a man who was a warrior both on and off the battlefield."

She wiped away tears and struggled to speak as she remembered her husband, whose casket was draped with the American flag.

"There isn't enough time to tell you everything you mean to me and everything you taught me. I know you had no idea you were teaching me, but there is something only God and I have known for a long time. God worked through you to make me into the woman I am supposed to be," she said.

Thousands turned out at the stadium to remember Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper."

Kyle learned to shoot on hunting trips with his father. He served four combat tours in Iraq and received two Silver Stars, among other commendations.

While serving as a sniper in Iraq, Kyle wrote he personally had 160 confirmed kills from a distance of up to 2,100 feet -- more than any other U.S. serviceman, in any conflict.

This led Iraqi insurgents to nickname the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Texan "the devil" and put a bounty on his head.

In interviews promoting his book, Kyle offered no regrets.

"I had to do it to protect the Marines," he told Time magazine a year ago. "You want to lose your own guys, or would you rather take one of them out?"

After his retirement from the Navy, Kyle became a businessman, a reality TV personalty, a supporter of fellow veterans, an avid hunter and an outspoken opponent of gun control.

He is survived by his wife and two children.