A U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Iraq Tuesday in an Islamic State group attack had ties to Citrus County.
Charles Keating IV, 31, the third U.S. serviceman to die in Iraq since 2014, died in a “coordinated and complex” attack carried out by 100 ISIS fighters north of Mosul, according to the Pentagon.
Krista Joseph, Keating's mother, lives in Jacksonville but lived in Crystal River for a period of time. She was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Citrus County Hospital Board. She spoke to ABC Action News over the phone about her son.
“Charlie was doing exactly what he wanted to do since he was 8-years-old. He had a poster of the Navy SEALS on his wall,” she said.
Keating, an Arizona native, was part of a quick reaction force designed to help American military advisors who came under Islamic State attack, the AP reports, citing Army Col. Steve Warren.
Warren told the AP that U.S. military advisors were going to Teleskof, just north of Mosul, to help Kurdish Peshmerga forces. ISIS fighters attacked the Peshmerga in the town with armored Humvees and bulldozers. The quick reaction force responded to get the American forces out. Keating was shot during a gun battle, Warren told the AP.
Family friend Silvia Grillo told ABC Action News her son is also a Navy SEAL. She and Keating's mom Krista became immediate friends when Krista and her husband first moved to Crystal River almost a decade ago. “She knocked on my door and couldn’t believe on this one little block there were two navy seals. That cemented our friendship. Now we talk everyday, literally everyday,” Grillo said.
Tuesday, Grillo said Krista called with the bad news. “She said it was Charlie. It was Charlie who was killed. She was heartbroken, sobbing, just sick. Sick that it was her Charlie.”
Krista told ABC Action News she instinctively knew her son was killed after learning of a Navy SEALS death in Iraq. “The day before i had a sad feeling. I was like what was going on? So i text him. I said, Charlie are you alright? What’s going on? Is your team ok? I have this funny feeling and I love you.” she said.
Her son, who served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, was gone
“That morning when I woke up I saw someone was killed I knew it was him. and when i look back at the time of the text, it was the same time he died.” Krista said.
In addition to his family, Keating leaves behind a fiance in San Diego. Their wedding was set for November.
Keating was a track star at his Arizona high school and also ran in college at Indiana University on a running scholarship. Despite that, his mom says he still had a passion to a Navy SEAL.
“When he ran his sophomore year one of the fastest mile times indoors he said, mom i’m in shape, I want to go to BUD/S,” his mom said. BUD/S is an acronym for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training.
Keating went to the Naval Academy in Maryland before joining seal team three based in Coronado, California. During his time as a SEAL his mom said he won a Bronze Start Medal for his acts of valor in combat.
“I told him when he was here at Christmas I said we don’t want any more medals. Just do your job and get home safe, and he obviously didn’t listen to his mom.
His family released the following statement: “Words cannot express the profound sadness that we feel at the loss of Charlie. He was our golden boy with a million dollar smile and a heart of gold. Charlie wanted to serve his country and make a difference. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was 8 years old, and he was very proud to be a SEAL. Charlie died doing what he loved and will be missed every day.”