A Texas Goodbye
by James Teasdale
I just wanted to
share with you all that out of a horrible tragedy we were blessed by so many
people. Chris was Derek's teammate through
10 years of training and battle. They both suffer / suffered from P T S D to
some extent and took great care of each other because of it. 2006 in Ramadi
was horrible for young men that never had any more aggressive physical
contact with another human than on a Texas football field. They lost many
friends. Chris became the armed services number #1 sniper of all time. Not
something he was happy about, other than the fact that in so doing, he saved
a lot of American lives. Three years ago, his wife Taya asked him to leave
the SEAL teams as he had a huge bounty on his head by Al Qaeda. He did and
wrote the book "The American Sniper." 100% of the proceeds from the book
went to two of the SEAL families who had lost their sons in Iraq . That was
the guy Chris was. He formed a company in Dallas to train military, police
and I think firemen as far as protecting themselves in difficult situations.
He also formed a foundation to work with military people suffering from P T
S D. Chris was a giver not a taker.
He along with a
friend and neighbor, Chad Littlefield, were murdered trying to help a young
man that had served six months in Iraq and claiming to have P T S D.
Now I need to tell
you about all of the blessings. Southwest
Airlines flew in any SEAL and their family from any airport they flew
into free of charge. The employees donated
buddy passes and one lady worked for four days without much of a
break to see that it happened. Volunteers
were at both airports in Dallas to drive them to the hotel. The Marriott
Hotel reduced their rates to $45 a night and cleared the hotel for
only SEALs and family. The Midlothian, TX. Police
Department paid the $45 a night for each room. I would guess there were
about 200 people staying at the hotel … 100 of them SEALs. Two
large buses were chartered (an unknown donor paid the bill) to
transport people to the different events and they also had a few
rental cars (donated). The police and secret service were on duty 24
hours during the stay at our hotel.
At the house the Texas
D P S parked a large motor home in front to block the view from
reporters. It remained there the entire five days for the SEALs to
congregate in and all to use the restroom so as not to have to go in the
house. Taya, their two small children and both sets of parents were staying
in the home. Only a hand full of SEALs went into the home as they had
different duties and meetings were held sometimes on a hourly basis. It was
a huge coordination of many different events and security. Derek was
assigned to be a pall bearer, to escort Chris' body when it was transferred
from Midlothian Funeral Home to Arlington Funeral Home and to be with Taya.
A tough job. Taya seldom came out of her bedroom. The home was full with
people from the church and other family members that would come each day to
help. I spent one morning in a bedroom with Chris' mom and the next morning
with Chad Littlefield's parents (the other man murdered with Chris). A tough
Nolan Ryan sent
his cooking team, a huge grill and lots of steaks, chicken and hamburgers.
They set up in the front yard and fed people all day long including the 200
SEALs and their families. The next day a
local B B Q restaurant set up a buffet in front of the house and fed
all once again. Food was plentiful and all were taken care of. The family’s
church kept those inside the house well fed.
Jerry Jones, the
man everyone loves to hate, was a rock star. He donated use of Cowboy
Stadium for the services as it was determined that so many wanted to attend.
The charter buses transported us to the stadium on Monday at 10:30 am. Every
car, bus, motorcycle was searched with bomb dogs and police. I am not sure
if kooks were making threats trying to make a name for themselves or if so
many SEALs in one place was a security risk… I don't know. We willing
obliged. No purses into the stadium! We
were taken to The Legends room high up and a large buffet was available.
That was for about 300 people. We were growing.
A Medal of Honor
recipient was there, lots of secret service and police and Sarah Palin and
her husband. She looked nice, this was a very formal military service. The
service started at 1:00 pm and when we were escorted onto the field I was
shocked. We heard that about 10,000 people had come to attend also. They
were seated in the stadium seats behind us. It was a beautiful and emotional
service. Bagpipe and drum corps were wonderful and the A & M men’s choir
stood through the entire service and sang right at the end. We were all in
The next day was
the 200-mile procession from Midlothian , TX . to Austin for burial. It was
a cold, drizzly, windy day, but the people were out. We had dozens of police
motorcycles riders, freedom riders five chartered buses and lots of cars.
You had to have a pass to be in the procession and still it was huge. Two
helicopters circled the procession with snipers sitting out the side door
for protection. It was the longest funeral procession ever in the state of
Texas . People were everywhere. The entire route was shut down ahead of us …
the people were lined up on the side of the road the entire way. Firemen
down on one knee, police officers holding their hats over their hearts,
children waving flags, veterans saluting as we went by… Every bridge had
fire trucks with large flags displayed from their tall ladders … people all
along the entire 200 miles standing in the cold weather. It was so
heartwarming. Taya rode in the hearse with Chris' body so Derek rode the
route with us. I was so grateful to have that time with him.
The service was at
Texas National Cemetery. Very few are buried there and you have to apply to
get in. It is like people from Civil War, Medal of Honor winners a few from
the Alamo and all the historical people of Texas . It was a nice service and
the Freedom Riders surrounded the outside of the entire cemetery to keep the
crazy church people from Kansas that protests at military funerals away from
us. Each SEAL put his Trident (metal SEAL badge) on the top of Chris' casket
one at a time. A lot hit it in with one blow. Derek was the only one to take
four taps to put his in and it was almost like he was caressing it as he did
it. Another tearful moment.
After the service
the governor's wife, Anita Perry, invited us to the governor's mansion. She
stood at the door and greeted each of us individually and gave each of the
SEALs a coin of Texas (she was a sincere, compassionate, and gracious
hostess). We were able to tour the ground floor and then went into the
garden for beverages and B B Q. So many of the team guys said that after
they get out they are moving to Texas. They remarked that they had never
felt so much love and hospitality. The charter buses then took the guys to
the airport to catch their returning flights. Derek just now called and
after a 20 hours flight he is back in his spot, in a dangerous land on the
other side of the world, protecting America.