By Bo Carter
FORT WORTH, Texas – U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and the family of the late 2016 Great American Patriot Award recipient Chris Kyle were honored at several events in and around the 14th annual Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Friday at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium.
Chris Kyle’s widow Taya Kyle was on hand to accept the Great American Patriot Award on behalf of the heroic Kyle, whose life story was portrayed in the movie “American Sniper.”
Secretary Mabus, born in Starkville, Miss., has been a national leader for five decades. The 75th Secretary of the Navy (since 2009). He was State Auditor of Mississippi from 1984-88, the 60th Governor of Mississippi from 1988-1992 and as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994-96.
He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a BA in English and political science. He later earned an MA in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
Secretary Mabus also served two years in the Navy as a surface warfare officer from 1970-72 aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock and reached the rank of LG, was a law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The cabinet dignitary expressed gratitude for the hospitality and pageantry surrounding the 2016 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl and the royal treatment accorded to attending veterans, active service members and armed forces recruits.
“We have received VIP treatment all week,” Mabus said, “and the whole bowl experience has been great. This is a great way for America’s people to see some of the finest student-athletes in the nation playing for the U.S. Naval Academy.
“All these young men will turn professionals someday. They will be defending the nation at sea, as Marine standing watch and in many venues worldwide. It has been enjoyable to watch this Navy team play several times this year and to overcome adversity such as losing 10 starters to injury. They have persevered all season.”
The posthumous Great American Patriot honoree Chris Kyle is considered the most decorated Navy SEAL sniper in history. He served four tours of duty in the Iraq War and was awarded numerous commendations and personal awards.
“Chris loved the Armed Forces and the work they do for our country, football and Texas,” Taya Kyle said. “To be invited to accept the Great American Patriot Award on his behalf at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Texas is a really great honor. I’m so happy for our entire family, and this is such a beautiful thing.
“Chris’ story has inspired so many people. It is beautiful to take a life that was sacrificed and to turn it into a positive thing for the living. Thank you to Armed Forces Insurance and to those of you here for remembering Chris. Our kids would have been here today, but they are getting ready for Santa. They are visiting relatives and very proud of their father as well.”
Mrs. Kyle also established the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation in 2014 to assist veterans and their families. She is a contributing reporter for FOX News.
Chris Kyle born in Odessa, Texas, and grew up near Fort Worth in the suburb of Midlothian. In 1999, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL school and was assigned to SEAL Team 3 were he became a sniper. After his four tours in Iraq, he retired in 2009 and switched his focus to assisting military and first responders in tactics and in finding peace post-service.
Candidates for the award must be of high moral fiber and good character, having spent their lives and/or careers serving the common good of the United States. They should have gone beyond the call of duty to serve and protect this country, with proven dedication and loyalty in upholding the Constitution and the laws of the nation. Finally, the Great American Patriot Award winner should have worked tirelessly to make the U.S. a better and safer place for all its citizens.
"Armed Forces Insurance is honored to recognize Chris Kyle as the 2016 recipient of the Great American Patriot Award," stated Lieutenant General Garry L. Parks, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), chairman of Armed Forces Insurance. “Chris Kyle is truly an American hero, a valiant warrior and a man who selflessly dedicated his life to serving our nation and our nation’s citizens.”
Kyle joined a selective group of previous Great American Patriot Award recipients, including General Mark Welsh, General Peter Pace, Medal of Honor Recipient Salvatore Giunta, Admiral William McRaven and General Norton A. Schwartz, among others.
Previous winners of the Great American Patriot Award have been 2015, Gen. Mark Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the U.S Air Force; 2014, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Marine Corps; 2013, Admiral William McRaven, U.S. Special Operations Command and current Chancellor of the University of Texas, U.S. Navy; 2012, General Norton A. Schwartz, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force; 2011, Salvatore Giunta, Medal of Honor Recipient, U.S. Army; 2010, Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired); 2009, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Navy; 2008, General David H. Petraeus, Former Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, U. S. Army; 2007, Preston "Pete" Geren, Former U.S. Secretary of the Army; 2006, Gordon England, Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense.