As former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle tells the story, he sucker-punched 55-year-old Jesse Ventura in a bar in September 2006 and then ran away – but Ventura, an honorably discharged Vietnam veteran who completed SEAL training himself,* insists the criminal assault “never happened,” and he’s willing to clear Kyle’s name.
“If a former governor within the SEAL community had been knocked down and … assaulted, it would have traveled through the SEAL community like wildfire,” Ventura pointed outin a radio interview with broadcaster Alex Jones, underscoring the fact that the alleged incident was never heard of prior to Kyle’s recent media tour to promote his new book, American Sniper. “He never hit me; I don’t even know who he is…. I want to clear his name because he’s confessing to assaulting me, and it didn’t happen.”
Ventura, a former Minnesota Governor, long-time professional wrestling performer, and movie actor who has become an outspoken peace activist, was en route to Mexico when Kyle made the allegations during an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” to plug American Sniper. At the time of his retirement in 2009, Kyle was considered the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, credited with 255 kills – all of them involving Iraqi insurgents who, it should be noted, were fighting on their home soil to expel a foreign army of occupation.
“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it,” Kyle, a native of Odessa, told the publicationTexas Monthly. “My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I’m not naive, and I don’t romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.”
According to Kyle’s account, the confrontation with Ventura occurred at McP’s Irish Pub, a popular SEAL hangout near the Naval Special Warfare Center, in September 2006. Although Ventura insists that he has no recollection of the incident, he says that he may have been at the bar – whose owner is one of Ventura’s former instructors – to attend a function at the SEAL facility.
In an interview with Sirius Radio personalities Opie and Anthony, Kyle claimed that Ventura, who made no secret of his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and his support for anti-war Republican presidential contender Ron Paul), “was bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing Bush, bad-mouthing America…. He told us that we were killing innocent people over there, men women children [and] that we were murders … [and] then he said that we deserved to lose a few guys.”
Ventura supposedly made those remarks despite the presence of family members of slain SEAL Michael Monsoor, who died on September 29, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq. Monsoor, who smothered a grenade with his body to save his colleagues, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. As Kyle told the story on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Ventura was asked to tone down his comments, but simply became louder and increasingly disrespectful – so he slugged the 55-year-old man in the face.
“That happened? You knocked him out?” Bill O’Reilly asked.
“Well, I knocked him down,” Mr Kyle responded, explaining that rather than sticking around to see how Ventura would respond, he fled the scene – acting on the wisdom of a SEAL Master Chief who supposedly taught him to “Punch and run.” The story left self-styled tough guy O’Reilly was visibly giddy with admiration, despite the fact that what Kyle described was a cheap shot of the sort that would be taken by a bullying punk, rather than the heroic take-down of a marauder. This assumes, of course, that the incident ever happened.
As Ventura points out, “nobody goes to McP’s alone,” and if Kyle is telling the truth, there should be witnesses to his criminal assault. While the ex-Governor’s concern to clear Kyle’s name is most likely facetious, there is a serious question about his credibility. Only 160 of Kyle’s 255 claimed sniper kills have been confirmed; if he has invented the story of his less-than-valiant face-off with Jesse Ventura, or embellished it beyond recognition, how reliable are the war stories he is peddling in his new book?
More importantly Kyle isn’t merely a guy peddling a book: He’s also a major player in Craft International, a Homeland Security contractor involved in training domestic law enforcement agencies, where he will have ample opportunity to teach SWAT operators and other police personnel the same “Punch and run” ethic he claims to have displayed in his encounter with Jesse Ventura.