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U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Walsh checks his weapon’s scope while performing overwatch security in Sekeik, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2006. Walsh is from 1st Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery Regiment, Wyoming National Guard Police Training Team. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Billy Brothers) (Released)

As US forces surged into Iraq in 2003, Chris Kyle was handed a sniper rifle and told to watch as his marine battalion entered an Iraqi town.

A crowd had come out to greet them. Through the scope he saw a woman, with a child close by, approaching his troops. She had a grenade ready to detonate in her hand.

“This was the first time I was going to have to kill someone. I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to do it, man, woman or whatever,” he says.

“You’re running everything through your mind. This is a woman, first of all. Second of all, am I clear to do this, is this right, is it justified? And after I do this, am I going to be fried back home? Are the lawyers going to come after me saying, ‘You killed a woman, you’re going to prison’?”

But he didn’t have much time to debate these questions.

“She made the decision for me, it was either my fellow Americans die or I take her out.”

Read the rest of Stephanie Hegarty’s article at BBC.co.uk.

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