Navy probing discrepancies in 'American Sniper' medal records

Story highlights

  • Sniper Chris Kyle wrote a best-selling book
  • The Navy has two sets of numbers in its files

(CNN)The Navy is investigating why documents show a discrepancy between the number of medals awarded to Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and what he wrote about in his best-selling book "American Sniper."

Documents obtained by The Intercept though a Freedom of Information request show that Kyle -- who became America's deadliest sniper during his tours in Iraq -- earned one Silver Star and three Bronze stars with valor. That differs from the two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars that Kyle wrote about in his book, which was later made into a movie starring Bradley Cooper.
    Navy spokeswoman Lt. Jackie Pau told CNN Kyle's official military personnel file states he received the lower counts for medals, while his discharge documents, known as a DD-214, indicated the higher numbers for both the Silver Stars and Bronze Stars, and were cited by Kyle in his book.
    "The Navy considers the individual service member's official military personnel file and our central official awards records to be the authoritative sources for verifying entitlement to decorations and awards," Pau told CNN. "The form DD214 is generated locally at the command where the service member is separated. Although the information on the DD214 should match the official records, the process involves people and inevitably some errors may occur. "
    The difficulty surrounding the discrepancies are compounded by the fact that some of the records in Kyle's file, who was discharged in 2009, were compiled from non-computer based systems earlier in his career, Pau said.
    Kyle would have played no role in the production of his personnel files other than signing the DD-214 upon his discharge.
    The Silver Star is the military's third highest military decoration for valor, while the Bronze Star is awarded to members of the US military for heroic or meritorious service or achievement in a combat zone.
    Claims from Kyle's book have been called into question before.
    Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura was awarded $1.8 million in a 2014 defamation lawsuit over a passage in the book about punching Ventura over derogatory comments Kyle said Ventura, himself a former SEAL, had said about the naval special operations unit.
    In his testimony, Ventura said he never made the comments and his reputation within the SEAL community was ruined because of it. The verdict in that trial is being appealed.
    Kyle was murdered by fellow Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh at a Texas shooting range in 2013.