9/11: Jacksonville Gold Star father remembers son who paid ultimate sacrifice defending his country

“The last photo I have of him is actually him walking into the airport and he turns and looks at us as I’m taking the picture,” Dave Seamans said.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Fallen Heroes Foundation is adding its 17th memorial on Sept. 17 at Keystone Heights High School. It is in honor of staff Sgt. Dick Lee Jr.

Dave Seamans said it’s his mission as a local Gold Star father and founder of the Timothy J. Seamans Memorial Foundation to put monuments at every Florida high school with a fallen soldier who fought in a post 9/11 conflict.

Dave Seamans and his family told Action News Jax the pain of losing a service member never goes away.

RELATED: Jacksonville Gold Star father empathizes with families of service members killed in Afghanistan

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is another day to reflect on all the sacrifices these fallen men and women have made.

“The last photo I have of him [Tim] is actually him walking into the airport and he turns and looks at us as I’m taking the picture,” Dave Seamans said.

Seamans will never forget the fateful knock on the door on Aug. 18, 2005.

It was 9:30 a.m. when he learned his 20-year-old son Tim had been killed in an IED explosion in Iraq.

“Reality hits you when see the casket, it really it does,” he said.

That was 16 years ago, and today, Tim’s dog tags remain close to his father’s heart.

“He cared about kids, he cared about his friends, he cared about his family. We are very proud of him,” Seamans said.

Tim was one of thousands of U.S. troops who died fighting in post 9/11 war operations in what became known as the Global War on Terror.

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If you walk along the grounds of Terry Parker High School where Tim graduated in 2004, a statue bearing his name and boots on the ground sit in the middle of campus.

His father created the Timothy J. Seamans Memorial Foundation in his son’s honor. These fallen hero monuments are dedicated to local high schools that lost alumni from the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts.

That way these service members and their sacrifices are never forgotten.

“Losing a life, like the soldier a family loses, it lasts forever. It never goes away, so learn from the mistakes that were made,” Seamans said.

For more information on Florida Fallen Heroes, click here.