Kyle planned on a full 20-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps until Oct. 16, 2006. On patrol in Iraq, a roadside bomb exploded under Kyle's humvee. He was pulled from the smoking wreck with a severe injury to his right hand.
That would be the last day he would ever use his right hand again. And after almost two years of rehabilitation, the pain was too much. Kyle decided to have it amputated.
But he did it his own way.
Before the anesthesiologist arrived, Kyle borrowed his mother's pen to mark a dotted line all along his right wrist, adding a "cut here" message for the surgeons. Kyle had heard amputation horror stories before, about doctors getting limbs mixed up or mistaking the right appendage for the left.
About halfway through the amputation, the doctors, operating on the correct hand, saw Kyle's instruction and in Kyle's telling, laughed so hard they had to pause the surgery for 20 minutes. It's a classic moment Kyle has shared with family and friends over the years.
Kyle had dreamed of joining the Marines since his elementary school days. Now, he's faced with discovering a new calling as his young family prepares for their third child. His wife, Krystal, is on track to give birth on Oct. 16 - Kyle's war injury anniversary.