‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle’s Parents Present Kellie Pickler With Patriot Award
It was a very emotional moment for everyone at the CMA Music Fest on Saturday (June 13), when the parents of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle presented Kellie Pickler with the first-ever Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award.
Pickler frequently performs for troops both in the U.S. and overseas, having toured with the USO eight times. She received the special honor in recognition of her efforts on behalf of our servicemen and women. "I am rarely at a loss for words, but I am tonight," Pickler said (quote via People). "I am so blessed to have done the USO tours, and so honored to receive this award tonight."
Formerly called the Operation Troop Aid Patriot Award, it’s been renamed this year in honor of Kyle, whose life was the subject of American Sniper. Operation Troop Aid provides care packages for U.S. troops on deployment. Pickler is a longtime supporter of the organization.
Kyle's parents have largely shunned the spotlight, but they braved the glare of the cameras on Saturday for the same reason they say their son did — to bring awareness to the troops.
"We are not celebrities and we don’t want to be," Kyle's father, Wayne, said as he and his wife, Deby, fought back tears. "Most people don’t know who we are and we prefer it that way."
Still, they came out for the very public occasion to meet country stars who have supported the military, and to personally thank Gibson Guitars for donating a Les Paul to the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit & Auction.
Their reluctance to embrace the spotlight is something they share with their late son, who was murdered in 2013. "He hated the notoriety," Wayne said, adding, "We live way out in the country and a lot of times he'd come to see us and say, 'I'm so glad to be here. I'm not answering my phone. I just want to relax and be quiet.' He came there to get away from it all. But he did what he felt he needed to do to bring awareness for our troops."
Even so, they didn't hesitate when Operation Troop Aid contacted them to ask if they could rename the annual award after their son. "We have thousands of boots still on the ground," Wayne states. "People don’t realize that. The key thing is to bring an awareness to our troops, they need our support, and that's what [Operation Troop Aid] does."
Though they find themselves in unusual circumstances, the Kyles are trying to keep what they can for themselves.
"We're just common people lucky enough to have raised two wonderful sons," Wayne Kyle says. "Chris became famous, but he's our son and he'll always be our son. That part of Chris Kyle is ours and always will be."
Country Stars Who Served Their Country