Photo Credit: Kristin Barlowe
Photo Credit: Kristin Barlowe

Operation Troop Aid (OTA), the elite non-profit military care package charity, will recognize country music star Kellie Pickler as the recipient of the first Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award (formerly the Operation Troop Aid Patriot Award, now named in memory and honor of the late American Sniper and U.S. Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle).  

Pickler receives the acknowledgement for her unwavering and impassioned support and contributions to the United States Armed Forces and their families.  The Navy SEAL’s parents, Wayne and Deby Kyle, and OTA Founder, Mark Woods, will make the presentation to Pickler from the LP Field stage (following her performance of the National Anthem to open the night concert) on Saturday, June 13 at the 2015 CMA Music Festival.

Operation Troop Aid is a military organization (specializing in entertainment and care package distribution) founded to make a positive difference in the everyday lives of our military and to inspire our troops by actively demonstrating that fellow Americans stand with them.  OTA Founder, Mark Woods joins Mr. and Mrs. Kyle to honor their son, his legacy and his contributions to the U.S. military and its veterans.  Deby and Wayne Kyle will be in Nashville Thursday and Friday, June 11-12, 2015, as part of a mini media junket to introduce the Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award as official and make the presentation to Pickler at LP Field on June 13.

In its origination, the Operation Troop Aid Patriot Award was established to honor “The American Sniper.” From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most sniper kills in United States military history. Kyle earned his legendary status among his fellow Seal teammates, Marines and other military soldiers and airmen, all of whom he protected with his deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Kyle served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and other clandestine operations for the U.S. Navy and Marines. He was shot twice, survived multiple helicopter crashes and was involved in six IED attacks. He was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, as well as one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. Kyle became the Chief Instructor for training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter Sniper teams. He authored the “Naval Special Warfare Doctrine,” the first Navy SEAL sniper manual and the New York Times bestselling book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History,” which ranks as one of the greatest war memoirs of all time. Before his untimely passing in 2013, Chris Kyle worked to assist veterans in re-acclimating to civilian life and overcome combat stress.

“Chris Kyle’s dedication to serve and protect our country is demonstrative and symbolic of all our service men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Operation Troop Aid Founder Mark Woods.  “To honor Chris’ service and resound his personal mantra (‘It is our duty to serve those that serve us’), it is absolutely fitting that we rename our annual award in Chris Kyle’s name, honor and legacy.”

A member of a military family, Kellie Pickler is passionate about supporting the men and women of America’s armed forces. Pickler is an eight-time USO tour veteran and the 2013 recipient of the Heart for the Warrior Award from the USO of North Carolina.  As the captain of the winning celebrity team in the recent inaugural Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge, Pickler was awarded $25,000 for the USO to support the organization’s programs and services. In recognition of her contributions to the troops, she was the cover girl on Maxim magazine’s military issue in 2012.

“We are pleased to recognize this young lady as part of our (now) annual tradition; we welcome Kellie to the legacy of Chris Kyle’s service to our military in alliance with Operation Troop Aid,” stated Wayne Kyle.  “Words are simply not enough to express our deep gratitude for those, like Ms. Pickler, who freely share their love and support of our military men and women.  This award will be one of the great highlights for us each and every year and we are proud to be a part of it.”

Pickler will be the first woman to receive the annual OTA award; previous recipients of the Operation Troop Aid Patriot Award include Kid Rock, Hank Williams Jr., Toby Keith, KISS, Darryl Worley, Aaron Tippin, Mark Wills, Charlie Daniels and Gary Sinise.

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