STEPHENVILLE (June 17, 2015) — Two Tarleton State University alumni will receive the state’s highest military honor upon the awarding of the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor posthumously to the late Chief Petty Officer Christopher Scott Kyle and Col. William Edwin Dyess.
The Texas House of Representatives and Senate each adopted resolutions to honor the two Tarleton alumni and directing Gov. Greg Abbott to award the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to both Kyle and Dyess. The Governor signed the measures yesterday.
Kyle, nominated for his exceptional dedication over the course of his service, was specifically cited for conspicuous gallantry and self-sacrifice during the battles of Fallujah in 2004 and Ramadi in 2006.
Rep. John Wray of House Dist. 10, which encompasses Midlothian where Kyle resided at the time of his death, authored the legislation and testified in support of Kyle’s nomination.
“While he (Kyle) may have believed he could have done more, we as a state should recognize his deeds of personal bravery and self-sacrifice,” said Wray, “and that they were so conspicuous that he deserves the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor.”
Wray cited an example of Kyle’s bravery in Fallujah in 2004, when he rescued two pinned civilian reporters and two Marines. “He moved them back through the fire to friendly lines. He immediately rejoined the fight until the last of the enemy fighters was eliminated.”
Kyle, author of the top-selling book, American Sniper, attended Tarleton from 1992-1994 before joining the U.S. Navy and being assigned to SEAL Team 3. He served four tours of duty in Iraq, and was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars. He’s credited with being the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. In 2013, Tarleton honored Kyle as its Outstanding Young Alumnus.
Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were gunned down at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range near Glen Rose on Feb. 2, 2013.
“Chris would feel humbled and honored that Rep. John Wray started a movement to consider Chris for the Texas Medal of Honor,” said Kyle’s wife, Taya. “Chris loved Texas as much as he loved his country. Chris never thought about medals or decorations, only about his service to his fellow service members and his country.”
Dyess, whose nomination was sponsored by Sen. Troy Fraser, Senate Dist. 24, was a native of Albany, Texas, and studied pre-law at John Tarleton Agricultural College from 1934-36. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps upon graduation. During World War II, Dyess became a certified combat pilot, commanding the 21st Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines.
While fighting the Japanese on the island of Bataan, outnumbered and under equipped, Dyess and his comrades surrendered on April 10, 1942, and were marched to a prisoner-of-war camp in the infamous “Bataan Death March.” Nearly a year later, Dyess and nine other American prisoners-of-war, along with two Filipino convicts, broke out of the Davao Penal Colony, an escape-proof Imperial Japanese Army prison plantation in the Philippines.
Dyess died on Dec. 22, 1943, in Burbank, Calif. during a training flight when the engine of his P-38 caught fire over a heavily populated area. Rather than parachuting to safety, Dyess opted to remain with his disabled aircraft, piloting it to a vacant lot to avoid civilians. His plane exploded on impact, killing him instantly.
Nearby Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene bears the Tarleton alumnus’ name, honoring his memory and WWII heroics for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Service Cross.
A documentary film about Dyess was screened on the Tarleton campus last November, produced by author and filmmaker John Lukacs, who also wrote a book about the Escape from Davao.
To view the full text of HCR 85 honoring Kyle and SCR 26 honoring Dyess, visit: